Research Matters at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center (AHSC) This Edition: The Steele Memorial Children's Research Center
May 21, 2001
From: Kate Jensen, (520) 626-7217
Screening for Diabetes at Douglas High School
Children in Arizona have a high incidence of diabetes. In the Hispanic and Native American populations, the incidence of diabetes is more than twice the national average. Most children diagnosed with diabetes have juvenile diabetes (Type 1). However, within the last decade doctors have seen an alarming increase in the number of children and adolescents with adult onset diabetes (Type 2).
Naznin Dixit, MD, assistant professor of Clinical Pediatrics in Endocrinology and a member of the UA Steele Memorial Children's Research Center, is leading an effort to screen every student in Douglas High School, which is 92 percent Hispanic. Physicians and researchers believe this epidemic may be due to a variety of factors - genetic, metabolic, environmental - and complicated by obesity, low birth weight and malnutrition.
"Type 2 diabetes can develop slowly and a patient may not know for years that the disease is developing," Dr. Dixit says. "By the time it is diagnosed it can be in an advanced stage."
Students whose glucose levels are suspicious for diabetes will receive further testing; teens diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes will be referred to a pediatric endocrinologist for disease management. Teens with risk factors for diabetes (obesity, family history) will be given medical counseling.
"It's important to determine if there truly is a trend toward Type 2 diabetes among Mexican American youths," Dr. Dixit says. "If that's so, we can develop health-promotion programs to incorporate into the school curriculum and reduce risk factors."
The Steele Memorial Children's Research Center is one of eight Centers of Excellence at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. Internationally known scientists and physicians, who also are part of the UA Department of Pediatrics, work together to research causes and develop cures for childhood illnesses and diseases.