Height and weight changes during the first 3 years of diabetes were prospectively followed in 152 diabetic children and adolescents.


The study sample consisted of 152 Caucasian diabetic patients (84 boys; 68 girls) followed from diabetes onset in the Paediatric Diabetes Unit and 80 Caucasian normal subjects (49 boys; 31 girls) assessed in the Outpatient General Paediatric Clinic of the same hospital for routine examination and not affected by problems that might influence growth. Diabetic patients and control subjects were consecutively enrolled in the study between 1989 and 1992; diabetic patients with positive markers for celiac disease (positive antiendomysial antibodies) and thyroid disease (positive antimicrosomial antibodies) or any other chronic disease were not considered in the study. Mean age of diabetic patients (8.9 ± 4.1 years) and control subjects (8.5 ± 4.2 years) at recruitment in the study was similar.


At onset of diabetes, the mean height expressed as the height standard deviation score (HSDS) was significantly greater than the expected values (P < 0.0001) and was independent of sex and pubertal stage. During the first 3 years of diabetes, HSDS decreased significantly (F = 6.9; P < 0.001). Meanwhile, growth velocity as standard deviation score (SDS) decreased significantly between the 1st and 2nd year (−0.12 ± 2.1; −0.76 ± 2.6, respectively; P < 0.05), but it was similar between the 2nd and 3rd year of diabetes. Weight expressed as SDS increased significantly during the first 2 years of diabetes but not thereafter. Height changes during the study period were independent from pubertal stage and sex. Metabolic control and insulin requirement, in our series, were not clearly related to height and weight changes.


Diabetic patients at onset of diabetes are taller than age- and sex-matched nondiabetic subjects. During the first years of the disease, linear growth decreases independently of metabolic control and weight changes.

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