Overweight siblings of children with type 2 diabetes carry a four fold risk of suffering abnormal glucose levels according to researchers at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
According to researchers, because abnormal glucose levels may indicate risk for diabetes or diabetes itself, these kids could benefit from screening tests and diabetes prevention education.
"To our knowledge, previous studies have not specifically looked at the risk of abnormal glucose tolerance among siblings of children diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. This group has a unique combination of genetic and environmental risk factors," said Sheela N. Magge, M.D., M.S.C.E., a pediatric endocrinologist at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and primary author of the study.
"Clinical experience suggests that children with type 2 diabetes often have an obese sibling, which makes siblings an appropriate target for prevention trials," Magge added.
For the study, researchers looked at 62 children: 20 obese subjects with a sibling who had type 2 diabetes and a control group of 42 obese children.
The groups were similar for age, gender, racial distribution (predominantly African American), pubertal status and body mass index over 95th percentile.
The researchers found that overweight siblings of children with type 2 diabetes had four times greater odds of having abnormal glucose levels (impaired glucose tolerance or type 2 diabetes) than other overweight children.
However, the authors found no significant differences in insulin resistance, as measured by the homeostasis model assessment.
The researchers also add that identifying groups at high risk for type 2 diabetes during childhood, such as obese siblings of children with type 2 diabetes, could help guide screening of obese children for abnormal glucose tolerance by primary care providers.
This could also help to identify children who might benefit from participation in future type 2 diabetes prevention studies.
The study has been published in the online edition of the Journal of Paediatrics.