Levels of insulin in African American children deteriorate as they progress through puberty, reveals a new study conducted by researchers at University of Alberta. The levels of insulin, however, remain unchanged in their Caucasian counterparts. The study highlights this specific phase of growth plays a crucial role in determining the individual risk of developing diabetes.
The 7-year, Alabama based study was conducted by Dr. Geoff Ball and his fellow researchers. Different aspects related to growth such as body composition, expenditure of energy were analyzed with respect to risk for development of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The development of insulin resistance, if any during the childhood and adolescent phase were observed. The study participants physical constitution and ethnic origin were also taken into consideration for the analysis.
The sensitivity to insulin, the level of insulin secreted and pancreatic beta-cell function were closely studied in Caucasian and African American children, as they progressed through puberty.
Upon analysis, that African American kids are more insulin resistant than their counterparts was established. Although none of the study participants were diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, a significant difference in the insulin level was observed, that could be attributed to different ethnicity.
Static levels of beta-cell function could be seen in the Caucasian girls and boys while a progressive decrease could be observed in those with an African American origin, throughout puberty. The results of this study can be cited in the Journal of Pediatrics.
It has been known that insulin sensitivity decreases during onset of puberty. In most of the cases, these levels may return to normal as puberty progresses. Children, in whom these levels do not return to the baseline value, may be at an increased risk for developing diabetes.
In view of the above findings, there is now a possibility that an individual's risk of developing diabetes could be determined much earlier than thought, during puberty. Appropriate strategies should therefore be adopted to identify such vulnerable groups so that they can be instructed regarding their risk.
'This was a unique opportunity to be able to examine puberty-related health changes in these boys and girls. Puberty is just one part of this picture; we need to consider a host of factors that contribute to diabetes risk, but we now know that physiological changes during puberty may make an important contribution to the risk profile', concluded Dr. Geoff Ball.