Growth and body composition in type 1 diabetes mellitus

Horm Res. 2002;58 Suppl 1:66-71. doi: 10.1159/000064762.


Over the last 50 years the prognosis for growth and pubertal development in children with type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) has improved considerably. The early reports of Mauriac's syndrome were related not only to relative deficiency of insulin but also reduced caloric intake. Improved insulin delivery and liberalisation of caloric intake has resulted in improved growth, but subtle abnormalities persist. The frequently reported increased height at diagnosis may relate to prior hyperinsulinaemia and genetic background with respect to lDDM2 the insulin gene VNTR. Subsequent growth faltering is thought to be related to impairment of the GH/IGF-1 axis but children with T1DM are also more at risk of hypothyroidism and coeliac disease. At puberty, persisting abnormalities of the GH/IGF-1 axis and our inability to reverse these totally, even with intensified insulin therapy, contribute to the blunted pubertal growth in the girls but abnormal sex steroid concentrations may also be important. Intensification of insulin therapy may result in leptin resistance and excessive gains in fat mass, particularly in girls. Although it is likely that most children with T1DM will have normal final heights, this excessive weight gain in girls may lead to problems with compliance. Furthermore, hyperinsulinaemia in these subjects may also lead to ovarian hyperandrogenism, increased early risk of microvascular complications and long-term risk of cardiovascular disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Body Composition*
  • Body Height
  • Body Weight
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / genetics
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / physiopathology*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Growth*
  • Humans
  • Minisatellite Repeats / genetics
  • Prognosis
  • Puberty