Diabetes and Asthma Together Make Care Hard for Kids

Diabetes and asthma for one child can be a lot to handle. Now comes new research that reports that when diabetes and asthma come together, it becomes significantly harder to control blood sugar levels. According to the new study published in the October issue of “Pediatrics,” around 11 percent of diabetic kids also have asthma. The researchers guess that the inflammation that goes along with asthma, especially when it’s untreated, might make it harder to control blood sugar levels.

Overall, kids with type 1 diabetes and asthma were 37 percent more likely to have poor blood sugar control compared to diabetic kids without asthma.

One of the most important take-aways from the study is that it’s vital to get your diabetic child treated for asthma and to work with your child’s doctor to balance medications for both ailments. It’s also important to look for ways to control each ailment with things like diet and lifestyle changes.

Parents of children with asthma may have a new weapon to help improve their kids’ condition: new research suggests that a change in diet may decrease the effects of asthma.

Dr. Gabriele Nagel and her associates at  the Institute of Epidemiology, Ulm University in Germany performed a meta-analysis of 29 studies in 20 countries involving over 50,000 children aged 8 to 12 years that showed an association between food choice and the prevalence of wheezing or whistling in the chest within the last 12 months.

Stronger adherence to a Mediterranean dietary pattern rich in fruits, vegetables and fish was associated with lower prevalence of wheezing in the past 12 months.  Furthermore, diets that were high burgers (three or more burgers per week) were also associated with a 42 percent increased prevalence of asthma compared to diets that had no burgers or an occasional burger less than once per week on average. Other dietary factors examined, such as overall meat consumption (beyond burgers), and carbonated beverage or juice intake, were not associated with either an increased or decreased prevalence of asthma or wheezing within the past 12 months.

There are some inconsistencies in the results of this study that should be taken into consideration. The participants of this study included children of affluent countries, Westernized countries, and non-affluent countries, non-Westernized countries. Some of the results for both groups of participants were loosely similar, whereas others differed. The differences in some results could be attributed to factors that were not addressed in the study, such as complete histories of diet, food preparation and body mass index.  Researchers also questioned the ability of the parents to accurately recall the foods their children had eaten during the time of study. Despite the limitations of the research, however, the relationship between a Mediterranean-style diet and lower incidence of wheezing was consistent with children of both affluent and non-affluent countries.  Other studies that tested the relationship between the Mediterranean diet and asthma have delivered similar results, lending further strength to this study’s findings.

What could this mean for asthma sufferers? Nagel’s study suggests that there may be relatively easy, inexpensive lifestyle changes that can help control asthma. The Mediterranean diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, nuts and other foods high in healthy, monounsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and antioxidant vitamins A, C and E.  Limiting foods high in animal fat and replacing them with Mediterranean-style food choices may help improve the symptoms of asthma. As always, consult a doctor or nutritionist before making a major change in diet.

There is also some proof that regular family dinners can help curb asthma symptoms. Three medical researchers observed 215 asthmatic children during one family mealtime and found that those families that engaged in conversation during mealtimes had children whose asthma symptoms were less severe.


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