Study Shows Pancreas Size Decreases More Than 30% In Kids With Diabetes

Although §-cells comprise just two percent of the gland, a study has found that children with diabetes have smaller pancreases than their healthy peers.

The study, conducted at the University of Chieti in Italy and published in the November 1995 issue of Diabetes Care, was not able to determine precisely why the pancreas shrinks in the presence of diabetes. However, since pancreatic function is impaired when §-cells are damaged, it is thought that the gland atrophies, much like the legs of person who is not able to walk.

Sixty children and adolescents with type I diabetes were screened. They were taking no drugs other than insulin and had no chronic diseases other than diabetes. They all had had the disease anywhere from two months to 11 years.

According to the report, “The most relevant reduction of pancreatic parameters was observed in insulin-dependent adolescents aged 13 to 15 years. In these patients, the reduction of pancreatic diameters was dependent on the duration of diabetes; in fact, pancreas size was already reduced after one to two years of the disease, but the decrease was very evident after five to 11 years. Pancreatic size was not influenced by metabolic control (as expressed by A1c) or by insulin requirement.”

It is hypothesized that the reduction in pancreas size is related to fibrosis and atrophy.

Pancreas Size in Cm2


3-7 years}Boys}8.3}10.2


8-12 years}Boys}9.3}14.5


13-15 years}Boys}10.9}15.7


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