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Steroid Treatment in Childhood Linked With Diabetes, Blood Pressure Later, Finds Study

Representation purpose only.

Representation purpose only.

The children were a mix of those with and without autoimmune diseases like psoriasis, juvenile arthritis, or inflammatory bowel disease.

If your child has been prescribed oral steroids as a treatment for asthma, or any autoimmune disease, they could be at high risk for blood pressure, blood clots, and diabetes in adulthood, according to a recent study.

Researchers from Rutgers claimed this in a paper which was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. The test subjects included 933,000 US children from age 1 to 18 years. The children were a mix of those with and without autoimmune diseases like psoriasis, juvenile arthritis, or inflammatory bowel disease. Children who didn't have the autoimmune disease were those who had prescriptions for steroids due to asthma.

“The rates of diabetes, high blood pressure and blood clots from oral steroids have been studied in large populations of adults. However, there are reasons to think these findings might be different in children,” said author Daniel Horton as reported on Sciencedaily.com. The lead scientist, Horton, is an assistant professor of pediatrics and epidemiology at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

He explained that there is a difference in the way children take steroids as compared to adults. He further said that children are generally less prone to developing similar cardiovascular and metabolic conditions. Due to these factors, the study could easily help extract accurate numbers on how oral steroids might be associated with rare and potentially serious complications in children.

In the study, they discovered that these complications were present in higher rates among children who had high steroid doses. Subsequently, those on lower or infrequent doses were at a comparatively lower risk.

While a number of complications were studied, the researchers found that high blood pressure was most common in children with steroid treatment. Furthermore, those with autoimmune diseases were naturally more vulnerable to blood pressure regardless of steroid effects.

However, Horton insisted that these results were only consistent with long-term steroidal treatments. Maintaining that the children with high-dose steroids for longer periods were at high risk for the diseases studied than those who never had any steroids. But a large number of children who went through very short and infrequent doses, asthma, for instance, are relatively safer. There’s a chance they may never develop high blood pressure, blood clots or diabetes.


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