Study Finds Less Sleep May Raise Child’s Type 2 Diabetes Risk

It found link — but no proof — between less slumber and risk factors for blood sugar disease

Children who get too little sleep may be more likely to have risk factors for type 2 diabetes, new research suggests.

The study of more than 4,500 British kids found a link between kids’ sleep habits and certain diabetes “risk markers.” Children who slept fewer hours each night tended to be a bit heavier and to show more insulin resistance.

Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. When the body starts to become resistant to insulin, that can be a precursor to type 2 diabetes.

So, the findings raise the possibility that childhood sleep habits could affect the odds of diabetes — or other health conditions — later in life, said researcher Christopher Owen.

“We believe that these small differences [in diabetes risk markers] early in life could plausibly persist,” said Owen, a professor of epidemiology at St. George’s, University of London.

Past studies, he noted, have found that diabetes risk can “track” from early life to adulthood.

However, the new findings do not prove that a lack of sleep causes kids’ diabetes risk to rise, said Dr. Nicole Glaser.

Glaser, a pediatrician and professor at the University of California, Davis, cowrote an editorial published online with the study in the Aug. 15 issue of Pediatrics.

In it, she points out that there could be other explanations for the link between kids’ sleep and diabetes risk markers: For example, it might reflect differences in the brain functions that regulate sleep, appetite and insulin sensitivity.

“It’s not yet clear whether the association between sleep and obesity/ type 2 diabetes risk is a causative one,” Glaser said.

Still, “there is really no ‘downside’ to making sure your children get enough sleep,” she added.

“There are studies to suggest that adequate sleep is necessary for optimal learning and memory, and that getting adequate sleep has beneficial effects on mood,” Glaser said.

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SOURCE: HealthDay News
Amy Norton