Background: Growth hormone (GH) contributes to insulin resistance, but whether children treated with GH are at increased risk of diabetes has not been established. We undertook a retrospective analysis of data from an international pharmacoepidemiological survey of children treated with GH to find out the incidence of impaired glucose tolerance and types 1 and 2 diabetes mellitus.
Methods: Reports to the survey of abnormal glucose metabolism were investigated and classified. The incidence and age-distribution of type 1 diabetes were compared with values from a model of reference data. The incidence of type 2 diabetes was compared with data from two reports of children not treated with GH.
Findings: 85 (0.36%) of 23333 children were reported with abnormal glucose metabolism. After investigation, 43 had confirmed glucose disorders (11 with type 1 diabetes, 18 with type 2 diabetes, and 14 with impaired glucose tolerance). The incidence and age at diagnosis of type 1 diabetes in children treated with GH did not differ from expected values. The incidence of type 2 diabetes was 34.4 cases per 100000 years of GH treatment which was six-fold higher than reported in children not treated with GH. Type 2 diabetes did not resolve after GH therapy was stopped.
Interpretation: GH treatment did not affect the incidence of type 1 diabetes mellitus in any age group. We postulate that the higher than expected incidence of type 2 diabetes mellitus with GH treatment may be an acceleration of the disorder in predisposed individuals.