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[IP] Can anyone relate?

Friday August 18 10:27 AM ET
Rapid growth early in life may be harbinger of type 1 diabetes 

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Mothers may beam with pride when their baby 
weighs in at the high end of the charts. But according to results of a study, 
children who gain a lot of weight in the first year of life may be at 
increased risk of type 1 diabetes.

The study included 91 children aged 4 to 15 with type 1 diabetes, 125 of 
their siblings, and more than 2,000 healthy Dutch children. The researchers 
analyzed their past health records and found that children who became 
diabetic tended to gain more weight by the age of 1 than their siblings or 
other children.

The diabetic children and their healthy siblings also tended to be taller 
between the ages of 1 and 3 compared with children in the general population. 
Dr. Jan Bruining and colleagues at Sophia Childrens' Hospital in Rotterdam, 
the Netherlands, report the findings in a research letter in the August 19th 
issue of The Lancet.

The study could not determine if the children gained more weight because they 
were predisposed to diabetes, or if the weight gain in some way contributed 
to the development of the disease.

The investigators also found the children with diabetes who were heavier and 
taller at a young age tended to have a specific type of autoantibody, which 
is antibody that mistakenly recognizes the body's own proteins, in their 
blood. The autoantibodies found in the children, known as IA-2, recognized an 
enzyme normally found in the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which a rogue immune system 
reaction--including autoantibodies and infection-fighting cells--mistakenly 
destroy the cells that produce insulin, the hormone that deposits glucose 
(sugar) into cells throughout the body for use as fuel. As a result, blood 
glucose levels rise to potentially life-threatening levels, resulting in a 
life-long dependence on insulin injections for survival. The disease is most 
commonly diagnosed in children or young adults.

``It is possible that increased body mass index during the first year of life 
and the development of such autoantibodies represents an additional risk 
marker towards earlier clinical onset of disease,'' Bruining and colleagues 

The authors believe that increased growth in infancy, which is associated 
with a higher insulin secretion, could lead to more rapid decay of 
insulin-producing cells if IA-2 antibodies develop. ``This combination could 
represent an additional risk towards earlier development of clinical 
disease,'' they conclude.

However, more study is needed to confirm the findings, the researchers add.

SOURCE: The Lancet 2000;356:655-656. 

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