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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Brown Explores Statin Use and the Risk of Diabetes in Children and Adolescents

The prescription of statins, a class of drug commonly used in cholesterol control, is very rare in children and adolescents. However, recent decisions by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute to recommend statins as a first line treatment for hyperlipidemia in children aged 8 or older has intensified the debate over the short- and long-term risk versus benefits of statin use in this population. Recent studies in adults suggests that statin use is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes between 9% and 28%. However, this association has not yet been explored in children.

[Photo: Dr. Nina Joyce]

The purpose of this study, led by Dr. Nina Joyce, a recent doctoral graduate from the Department of Epidemiology and current post-doctoral research fellow at Harvard Medical School, was to evaluate the relationship between statin use and type 2 diabetes in children and adolescents. Joyce, along with her co-investigators at Brown University School of Public Health, Harvard Medical School, and Baylor College of Medicine, identified and matched children and adolescents aged 8 to 20 who had a diagnosis of dyslipidemia and did or did not have a prescription for statins with those who were not diagnosed with dyslipidemia and did or did not have a prescription for statins. Statin use was associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes in children without dyslipidemia, but not in children with dyslipidemia.

The findings of this research suggest that there may be an increased risk of type 2 diabetes associated with statin use in children without a recorded diagnosis of dyslipidemia, a group many experts would suggest statin use should be the last option. There was no apparent risk of statin use as it relates to type 2 diabetes in those diagnosed with dyslipidemia, which provides a foundation from which to conduct more research on the long-term risks of statin use.

This study was published in Academic Pediatrics, 2017 (ahead of print).

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