Cincinnati, OH, January 10, 2008 Metabolic syndrome in children represents a potentially serious threat to health in adulthood, yet many parents and caregivers do not have a clear idea of what metabolic syndrome is and why it is dangerous. Metabolic syndrome is a group of cardiovascular risk factors, including obesity, hypertension, prediabetes, and reduced HDL (good) cholesterol. Because it is difficult to know when a child is at risk for metabolic syndrome, some doctors fear that children may not be properly diagnosed as a result. The February 2008 issue of The Journal of Pediatrics focuses on this issue by publishing a series of articles in an attempt to work toward a cohesive definition of metabolic syndrome in children.
Five articles of the series were completed by researchers from the Pediatric Metabolic Syndrome Working Group (PMSWG), a team of researchers from various institutions across the United States. The members of the PMSWG explored the potential for a unified and cohesive definition for metabolic syndrome. The researchers evaluated how current definitions relate to the number of children diagnosed with metabolic syndrome. They found that because of the variety of definitions used by pediatricians, it is difficult to estimate the prevalence of the syndrome among children and adolescents. Additionally, the researchers looked at how well each metabolic risk factor predicts future health issues. According to Dr. Terry Huang, these papers represent summaries of the current state of knowledge for factors related to metabolic syndrome. By gathering this information, the PMSWG hopes to provide a frame of reference for pediatricians working with metabolic syndrome.
Dr. John Morrison and colleagues from Cincinnati Childrens Medical Center, Cincinnati Jewish Hospital, and Maryland Medical Research Institute collected data from a 25-30 year study concerning cardiovascular risk factors. They found that metabolic syndrome in children may have a direct link to type 2 diabetes in adulthood.
In a related article, Dr. Claudio Maffeis and colleagues from The Obesity Study Group of the Italian Society of Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetology used body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, and weight to height ratios to determine obesity in a group of 974 children. They found that evaluating waist circumference and weight to height ratio measurements may be more accurate in determining metabolic risk than using body mass index alone.
These articles demonstrate that symptoms of adult metabolic syndrome begin in childhood and may be directly related to obesity. They also illustrate the need for a clear definition of metabolic syndrome in children. According to Dr. Reginald Washington, once this definition exists, medical providers who care for children will know what to look for in order to identify children who are at risk to develop adult metabolic syndrome. Such a definition could lead to better treatment of childhood metabolic syndrome, which could positively impact the growing obesity epidemic.
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Elsevier Health Sciences