Montefiore News Releases
Why do Children Develop Type 2 Diabetes? $4.1 Million NIH Grant Will Help Montefiore Einstein Researchers Investigate
- April 18, 2023
As Part of a National Study, Investigators will Assess Biological and Social Risk Factors for Children & Adolescents from Historically Marginalized Populations in the Bronx
NEW YORK (April 18, 2023) – Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is surging among U.S. children. The number of youths under age 20 living with the disease has nearly doubled between 2001 and 2017, and yet—aside from increases in childhood obesity—the reasons for this disturbing increase are not clear. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has awarded the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore (CHAM) and Albert Einstein College of Medicine a six-year, $4.1 million grant to identify the biological and social factors that cause children and adolescents to develop the condition.
“The children we serve face profound social challenges that may contribute to the high rates of type 2 diabetes in the Bronx,” said Carmen R. Isasi, M.D., Ph.D., professor of epidemiology & population health and of pediatrics at Einstein, associate director of the New York Regional Center for Diabetes Translational Research and principal investigator of the CHAM/Einstein site. “This study will help us to identify factors besides obesity, including social factors such as food and housing insecurity, that may be contributing to the high T2D incidence rates among children in our community.”
A large NIDDK study will enroll 3,000 children from a variety of racial and ethnic minority populations at 15 clinical sites across the country to better understand what factors impact the development of the condition. At CHAM and Einstein, 250 children between 9 and14 years old who are overweight or obese will be enrolled. The Montefiore Einstein investigators were selected in part due to their history of research with Hispanic and Latino populations, but also because the Bronx is one of the most racially and ethnically diverse counties in the country, where children have high rates of obesity-related metabolic disorders and face social and economic adversity that contributes to health inequity.
T2D inhibits the body’s ability to regulate sugar in the blood. Over time, high blood-sugar levels can damage organs throughout the body, leading to serious health problems such as heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease. T2D can be successfully managed, and sometimes even reversed, with diet and lifestyle modifications. But socioeconomic challenges, such as lack of access to healthy food and unsafe environments, can hamper an individual’s ability to prevent or manage the condition.
The researchers will meet the children annually over four years to assess their blood-sugar levels and monitor their overall health. The data collected at the 15 clinical sites will be analyzed to look specifically for factors that may spur prediabetes to progress to T2D in adolescents going through puberty—a particularly challenging time for regulating blood sugar. Ideally, the aggregated data will reveal previously unrecognized factors that contribute to risk for youth-onset T2D and will help clinicians recognize children at greatest risk for developing the disease.
“We hope that our participation in this study will bring to light the multi-faceted nature of type 2 diabetes so that more resources can be directed to addressing both clinical care and social influences,” said Dr. Isasi. “Our goal is to help create evidence-based guidance for pediatricians, so the children at greatest risk can receive the medical and social support that may keep them from developing the disease.”
The grant is titled “Metabolic, behavioral and social determinants of youth-onset T2D.” (1U01DK134988-01).
About Montefiore Health System
Montefiore Health System is one of New York’s premier academic health systems and is a recognized leader in providing exceptional quality and personalized, accountable care to approximately three million people in communities across the Bronx, Westchester, and the Hudson Valley. It is comprised of 10 hospitals, including the Children's Hospital at Montefiore, Burke Rehabilitation Hospitaland more than 200 outpatient ambulatory care sites. The advanced clinical and translational research at its medical school, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, directly informs patient care and improves outcomes. From the Montefiore-Einstein Centers of Excellence in cancer, cardiology and vascular care, pediatrics, and transplantation, to its preeminent school-based health program, Montefiore is a fully integrated healthcare delivery system providing coordinated, comprehensive care to patients and their families. For more information please visit www.montefiore.org. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram and LinkedIn, or view us on Facebook and YouTube.
About Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Albert Einstein College of Medicine is one of the nation’s premier centers for research, medical education and clinical investigation. During the 2022-23 academic year, Einstein is home to 740 M.D. students, 194 Ph.D. students, 118 students in the combined M.D./Ph.D. program, and approximately 225 postdoctoral research fellows. The College of Medicine has more than 1,900 full-time faculty members located on the main campus and at its clinical affiliates. In 2022, Einstein received more than $202 million in awards from the National Institutes of Health. This includes the funding of major research centers at Einstein in cancer, aging, intellectual development disorders, diabetes, clinical and translational research, liver disease, and AIDS. Other areas where the College of Medicine is concentrating its efforts include developmental brain research, neuroscience, cardiac disease, and initiatives to reduce and eliminate ethnic and racial health disparities. Its partnership with Montefiore, the University Hospital and academic medical center for Einstein, advances clinical and translational research to accelerate the pace at which new discoveries become the treatments and therapies that benefit patients. For more information, please visit einsteinmed.edu, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and view us on YouTube.