Children’s voices could hold future warning signs for major health issue

Children talking
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Parents of children who have a stutter or stammer may have to keep an eye out for a completely different condition in their adult life. Israeli scientists have now discovered an unexpected connection between the common childhood speech impediment with dysglycemia, also known as prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.

A stutter or stammer is far from rare in the world of speech disorders with an estimated 80 million people across the world struggling through their words. Their speech can be interrupted by repetitions, pauses, or stops despite having a clear idea of what they plan to say in their mind.

The new study, published in Diabetes/Metabolism Research and Reviews, followed 866,000 people delving into how stammering affected their health in the long term. Researchers discovered those with speed impediments were significantly more likely to have high blood sugar levels in adulthood.

High blood sugar levels are a major risk factor for type two diabetes and the study particularly found that teenage girls with a stammer were up to 61% more likely to have higher blood sugar levels than their peers without a speech impediment. Teenage boys in the same situation faced just an 18% increase in the likelihood of high blood sugar in adulthood. The exact link between stammers and type 2 diabetes is not yet known

Some scientists believe the connection may be genetic factors, with some studies revealing that environmental factors such as childhood trauma can lead to both disorders. Others claim differences in brain structure can induce both a stammer and a predisposition to high blood sugar levels.

Unlike type 1 diabetes, which is a genetic condition, type 2 diabetes is often closely linked with a person’s lifestyle choices and occurs when their blood sugar levels are too high. Other risk factors include more complex concepts like their family history.

Diabetes UK estimates that roughly 1.2 million people in the UK have type 2 diabetes but haven’t yet been diagnosed. Untreated, long-term high glucose levels can damage blood vessels, nerves and organs.