Symptoms of depression may predict a child's risk of insulin resistance - a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
"Treat your child's depression early."
Lauren B. Shomaker, Ph.D., from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and her fellow researchers set out to see if children with depression have a higher risk insulin resistance or problems with blood sugar levels, compared to those without depression.
Insulin is a hormone that manages glucose (sugar) in the body. When someone becomes resistant to insulin, they can no longer use sugar for energy. Instead, the sugar builds up in the bloodstream, which increases the chance of developing type 2 diabetes.
From their research, Shomaker and colleagues saw that depressive symptoms in children were strong predictors of insulin resistance as those children grew older. The children with depressive symptoms were more likely to develop insulin resistance regardless of their body mass index (BMI) - a measure of height and weight. A high BMI is a known increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.
According to the authors, it is still unclear whether treating depression early in a child's life will improve insulin resistance later. They write that more research is need to see if early treatment of depressive symptoms will reduce the risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
For their study, the researchers looked at 115 children between five and 13 years of age who were at risk of becoming obese as adults. At the beginning of the study, children reported symptoms of depression. Participants' insulin resistance was measured at the start of the study and during the follow-up about six years later.
The full results of this longitudinal study are published in Diabetes Care.