WORLD DOWN SYNDROME DAY 2023 : “10 Shocking Facts About Diabetes and Down Syndrome You Need to Know “
Do you know someone with Down syndrome?
Do you know that they are at a higher risk of developing diabetes than the general population?
Do you know that diabetes can have serious consequences for their health and well-being?
Do you know that there are ways to prevent and treat diabetes in people with Down syndrome?
If you answered no to any of these questions, then this article is for you.
As a renowned Diabetes Wellbeing Coach and Diabetes Reversal Expert, I want to share with you 10 shocking facts about diabetes and Down syndrome that you need to know before World Down Syndrome Day 2023. Time is running out to make a difference!
World Down Syndrome Day is celebrated every year on March 21st to raise awareness and advocate for the rights and inclusion of people with Down syndrome.
This year’s theme is ‘With Us, Not For Us’, emphasizing that people with disabilities should be treated equally and have access to the same opportunities as others.
People with Down syndrome have the right to live healthy, fulfilling and dignified lives, and we can all play a role in supporting them.
Here are 10 shocking facts about diabetes and Down syndrome that will surprise you:
1. People with Down syndrome are four times more likely to develop diabetes than the general population. According to a recent study using UK electronic health records, the incidence of diabetes in people with Down syndrome was 3.67 times higher than in control patients (1). This means that about 1 in 60 children with Down syndrome will also develop diabetes.
2. People with Down syndrome tend to develop diabetes at a younger age than the general population. The same study found that the median age at diagnosis of diabetes in people with Down syndrome was 38 years, compared to 53 years in control patients . This means that people with Down syndrome may face the complications of diabetes earlier in life.
3. People with Down syndrome can have both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, but type 1 is more common.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, leading to high blood glucose levels.
Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic condition where the body becomes resistant to insulin or does not produce enough insulin, also leading to high blood glucose levels.
Both types of diabetes require lifelong management and monitoring of blood glucose levels, diet, exercise and medication. The study found that the incidence rate of type 1 diabetes was 0.44 per 1000 person-years in people with Down syndrome, compared to 0.13 per 1000 person-years in control patients.
However, some people with Down syndrome may also have type 2 diabetes, especially if they are overweight or obese.
4. People with Down syndrome are more prone to obesity than the general population, which increases their risk of type 2 diabetes.
Obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of over 30 kg/m2, which indicates excess body fat.
Obesity can cause various health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and cancer. It can also make it harder for insulin to work properly in the body, leading to type 2 diabetes or worsening existing diabetes. The study found that peak mean BMI was higher and reached earlier in people with Down syndrome than in control patients (males: 31.2 kg/m2 at age 31 years; females: 32.1 kg/m2 at age 43 years) versus control patients (males: 29.5 kg/m2 at age 54 years; females: 29.2 kg/m2 at age 51 years).
This means that people with Down syndrome may need more support and guidance on maintaining a healthy weight throughout their lives.
5. People with Down syndrome may have other genetic factors that increase their risk of developing diabetes or affect their response to treatment.
People with DS have an extra copy of chromosome 21
which contains many genes involved
in various biological processes, including
immune function and oxidative stress.
Some of these genes may contribute to the Increased susceptibility to diabetes or influence how well insulin works in the body.
For example, one gene on chromosome 21 encodes for amyloid precursor protein (APP), which is involved in the formation of amyloid plaques to the brain of people with Alzheimer’s disease.
However, APP also affects insulin secretion and signaling in the Pancreas and other tissues, and its overexpression due to trisomy 21 may impair glucose homeostasis.
Another gene on chromosome 21 encodes for superoxide dismutase (SOD),
which is an antioxidant enzyme that protects cells from oxidative damage.
However, SOD may also increase the production of hydrogen peroxide, which can damage the insulin-producing cells and cause inflammation . These and other genetic factors may explain why some people with Down syndrome have more severe or resistant diabetes than others.
6. People with Down syndrome may have other medical conditions that affect their diabetes management or increase their risk of complications. People with Down syndrome often have congenital heart defects, gastrointestinal abnormalities, hematological disorders and immune dysregulation that can impact their health and well-being . These conditions may require special care and medication that can interfere with diabetes treatment or cause side effects. For example, some drugs used to treat heart problems or blood disorders may affect blood glucose levels or interact with insulin or oral hypoglycemic agents. Some conditions may also make it harder for people with Down syndrome to recognize or report the symptoms of hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) or hyperglycemia (high blood glucose), such as cognitive impairment, speech difficulties or sensory deficits. Moreover, some conditions may increase the risk of developing diabetes-related complications, such as kidney disease, eye disease, nerve damage or infections.
7. People with Down syndrome may face barriers to accessing quality health care and education for diabetes prevention and management. People with Down syndrome often experience discrimination, stigma and social exclusion that can limit their access to health services and information . They may also face challenges in communicating their needs and preferences, understanding complex medical information and instructions, following treatment plans and adhering to medication regimens. They may also lack adequate support from family members, caregivers, health professionals and educators who are knowledgeable about diabetes and Down syndrome. These barriers can result in poor health outcomes, reduced quality of life and increased health care costs for people with Down syndrome and diabetes.
8. People with Down syndrome can benefit from early screening and diagnosis of diabetes to prevent or delay its onset and complications. Early detection of diabetes is crucial for initiating timely treatment and preventing long-term damage to various organs and tissues. Screening for diabetes should be done regularly for people with Down syndrome from childhood onwards, especially if they have risk factors such as obesity, family history of diabetes or other medical conditions . Screening tests include measuring blood glucose levels using a finger prick sample or a laboratory test on a fasting or non-fasting sample. If the results are abnormal or inconclusive, further tests such as an oral glucose tolerance test or an antibody test can be done to confirm the diagnosis and type of diabetes.
9. People with Down syndrome can prevent or manage diabetes by adopting healthy lifestyle habits such as eating a balanced diet ,exercising regularly ,maintaining a healthy weight and quitting smoking.
These habits can help lower blood glucose levels ,improve insulin sensitivity ,reduce inflammation and prevent Obesity and other chronic diseases.
10. People with Down syndrome may need individualized guidance and support on how to make healthy choices that suit their preferences ,abilities and circumstances.
They may also need assistance from family members ,caregivers ,health professionals and educators on how
to monitor their blood glucose levels ,take their medication correctly and manage any side effects or complications.
People with Down syndrome can live well with diabetes if they receive appropriate care and support from their families , caregivers , health professionals , educators , peers , communities , organizations , policy makers .
Living well means not only controlling blood glucose levels but also enjoying a good quality of life that includes physical , mental , emotional , social , spiritual , cultural aspects.
People with Down syndrome have the right to participate in all aspects of life ,including education ,employment ,relationships ,leisure ,culture ,sports ,arts ,politics ,etc .
They also have the right to receive respect , dignity , equality , inclusion , empowerment , autonomy , choice , information , advocacy , accessibility .
These rights are essential for promoting their health, well-being, happiness, self-esteem, confidence, potential .
To ensure these rights are respected, protected, fulfilled, we all need to work together to raise awareness, understand, support people with Down syndrome who have diabetes .
I hope this article has opened your eyes to the shocking facts about diabetes and Down syndrome that you need to know before World Down Syndrome Day 2023. Time is running out to make a difference!
As a Diabetes Wellbeing Coach and Diabetes Reversal Expert, I am passionate about helping people with Down syndrome and diabetes live well and thrive. If you or someone you know has Down syndrome and diabetes, or is at risk of developing it, I invite you to contact me for a free consultation. I can offer you personalized advice, coaching, education and support on how to prevent or manage diabetes and improve your health and well-being.
You can also join me in celebrating World Down Syndrome Day 2023 by wearing colorful socks, sharing your stories, spreading the word, donating to a charity, volunteering for a cause or taking action for change. Together, we can create a more inclusive and supportive world for people with Down syndrome and diabetes.
Thank you for reading this article and for caring about this important issue. Please share it with your friends, family, colleagues and networks to raise awareness and inspire action.
Remember: With Us, Not For Us!
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