Researchers have discovered that the early signs of heart disease are likely to manifest before the onset of puberty in many children with diabetes.
Children with type 1 diabetes have a 200 percent to 400 percent greater chance of developing cardiovascular disease than those without diabetes.
Led by Ramin Alemzadeh, professor of paediatrics at the college and paediatric endocrinologist at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, they researchers studied 21 preadolescent children (average age 8.5 years) with type 1diabetes, and compared that group to 15 healthy siblings.
Children who had high blood pressure, family history of high cholesterol or premature cardiovascular disease from other causes were excluded.
The researchers looked at flow-mediated dilatation (FMD), a gauge of the health of a major blood vessel of the upper arm artery, in both groups.
FMD percentage (FMD percent) is a way to measure any stiffening of the blood vessels; stiffening blood vessels is an early precursor of cardiovascular disease.
Blood samples were collected from all participants to monitor cholesterol and sugar levels.
When tested, the blood vessels of children with type 1 diabetes had a lower FMD% change, which means their blood vessels were less expandable than the control group suggesting that higher circulating glucose results in increased rigidity of blood vessels independent of serum cholesterol levels.
They also had vascular inflammation, which is a known harbinger of future cardiovascular risk.
The researchers said long-term studies were needed to evaluate the progression of those vascular changes through puberty and beyond.
The findings are published in the online version of Diabetes Care and will be in the March issue of Diabetes Care.