Growth Hormone Deficiency and Type 2 Diabetes Risk

Baby's hand holding on to an adult Index fingerBesides widely discussed symptoms such as developmental abnormalities, fatigue, lack of memory, and mental health problems, growth hormone deficiency (GHD) may result in an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), according to the results of a study.

A team led by researchers in Berchem, Belgium, argue that GHD is associated with obesity and visceral fat deposits which may raise patients’ risk of developing T2DM.

In the study, “Prevalence of diabetes mellitus in 6050 hypopituitary patients with adult-onset growth hormone (GH) deficiency before GH replacement - a KIMS analysis,” the researchers took a closer look at the connection between GHD and T2DM. The study was published online ahead of print in December 2012. It appears in the European Journal of Endocrinology.

The researchers looked at data on 6,050 patients with adult-onset, untreated GHD from KIMS (Pfizer International Metabolic Database). They performed Poisson-regression analyses to search for associations between the patients’ baseline characteristics and diabetes prevalence.

The prevalence of diabetes was positively associated with age, body mass index, waist circumference, number of pituitary deficiencies, and family history of diabetes, among other factors. The results of the study showed that the prevalence of diabetes among patients with GHD was 9.3%, compared to an expected 8.2%, derived from the patients’ baseline characteristics. The factors that were most likely to affect the difference between expected and observed diabetes prevalence proportions were patients’ age and their body mass indexes.

The researchers conclude that their study demonstrates an increased prevalence of diabetes among patients with growth hormone deficiency. They state that this association can be largely explained by adverse body compositions in people with GHD. According to the study authors, encouraging patients to adopt lifestyle modifications early on in disease progression may help them reduce a later risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

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