New study finds link between growth hormone therapy and type 2 diabetes in children

In recent years, prescribing growth hormone has become a common treatment for many childhood conditions. However, a new study from the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly has found that this therapy may dramatically increase young people's risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Growth hormone is generally prescribed to children who are short in stature, have low levels of the hormone or suffer from developmental conditions like Prader-Willi syndrome or Turner syndrome, both of which may leave areas of the body underdeveloped during childhood.

However, prior investigations have shown that this treatment may disrupt the way the body processes insulin or otherwise alter metabolic function. This prompted the researchers to look into whether or not it could be tied to type 2 diabetes.

For the study, the researchers analyzed the medical records of 11,000 children who had been prescribed growth hormone who had no previous history of impaired metabolic function. Data collected from these individuals were compared to information from children who were not taking growth hormone.

The results, which were published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, showed that 11 participants were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes after starting growth hormone treatment, and another 26 were found to have impaired blood sugar processing. When compared to diabetes rates in the general population, growth hormone patients were 8.5 times more likely to develop the condition.

The researchers said that their findings are particularly important for young people who are about to start growth hormone therapy and have other risk factors for type 2 diabetes, such as obesity or low levels of physical activity. They recommended that these individuals be closely monitored for metabolic problems if they are going to be put on growth hormone therapy.