The role of pharmacotherapy in the prevention and treatment of paediatric metabolic syndrome - implications for long-term health: part of a series on Pediatric Pharmacology, guest edited by Gianvincenzo Zuccotti, Emilio Clementi, and Massimo Molteni
Sabin, MA and Magnussen, CG and Juonala, M and Cowley, MA and Shield, JPH, The role of pharmacotherapy in the prevention and treatment of paediatric metabolic syndrome - implications for long-term health: part of a series on Pediatric Pharmacology, guest edited by Gianvincenzo Zuccotti, Emilio Clementi, and Massimo Molteni, Pharmacological Research, 65, (4) pp. 397-401. ISSN 1043-6618 (2012) [Refereed Article]
The metabolic syndrome (MetS) is defined as a clustering of risk factors predisposing to the future development of cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). Its clinical relevance, above and beyond recognition and treatment of each of the component parts, is still hotly debated--especially within paediatric medicine. Prevention and treatment strategies for adult MetS focus on weight management, as obesity and insulin resistance are known to be at the central axis of the definition, alongside pharmacotherapy of integrally linked conditions such as hypertension and dyslipidaemia. In children and adolescents, however, opportunities for pharmacotherapy are currently limited and interventions aimed at weight management remain the sole treatment paradigm in the majority of cases. This is primarily due to a lack of long-term data relating to the degree of cardiovascular disease and T2DM risk from paediatric MetS, as well as concerns relating to safety and side effect profiles of currently available pharmacotherapies in those who are still growing and developing. Coupled with continuing concern about the recently recognised adverse effects of past and proposed anti-obesity drugs, this indicates that a new era of pharmacotherapy for paediatric MetS is unlikely to be imminent. In fact, the overall paucity of effective current interventions for paediatric MetS is concerning, especially given the fact that approximately 25-33% of all obese paediatric patients likely harbour the condition. It is therefore essential at the present time to concentrate efforts on properly testing the safety and efficacy of currently available products in well-constructed randomised controlled trials in obese adolescents. However, not all obese children and adolescents appear equally at-risk of long-term, weight-related morbidity and a change in emphasis is possibly warranted--one that moves away from simple weight reduction for all and more to a model of reducing long-term risk of cardiovascular disease and T2DM in those at greatest metabolic risk.