Diabetes can retard growth. Growth was studied prospectively in 12 nondiabetic identical twins aged <14 yr and in their co-twins with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) to determine whether changes in growth occur before the onset of IDDM. Seven of the 12 nondiabetic twins subsequently developed IDDM; the remainder are now unlikely to become diabetic. A significantly reduced growth velocity was observed more frequently in the nondiabetic twins (7 of 12) than in their diabetic co-twins (1 of 12; P = 0.03). Of the 7 nondiabetic twins who were prediabetic, 6 had a reduction in growth velocity to below the 3rd percentile before the onset of diabetes compared with 1 of their diabetic co-twins (P = 0.03). However, only 1 of the 5 nondiabetic twins who did not develop diabetes showed a reduction in growth velocity. The nadir of growth in the twins who developed diabetes occurred a mean of 1.2 yr before diagnosis (range 0.3–2.3 yr). All 7 of the prediabetic twins had islet cell antibodies when first seen, and 3 had them before they showed either decreased growth velocity or impaired glucose tolerance. In 4 prediabetic twins, the decreased growth preceded impaired glucose tolerance. The prediabetic twins tested had lower testosterone or estradiol levels at the time they showed decreased growth than their diabetic twins. We conclude that decreased growth velocity is an early sensitive marker of IDDM.

This content is only available via PDF.