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Autism Drugs are at risk for Metabolic Syndrome

Children who take certain drugs (primarily for autism) are up to six times greater at risk of developing metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a name for a group of risk factors that occur together and increase the risk for coronary artery disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

The two most important risk factors for metabolic syndrome are:

· Extra weight around the middle and upper parts of the body (central obesity). The body may be described as “apple-shaped.”

· Insulin resistance, in which the body cannot use insulin effectively. Insulin is needed to help control the amount of sugar in the body. As a result, blood sugar and fat levels rise.

Other risk factors include:

· Aging

· Genes that make you more likely to develop this condition

· Hormone changes

· Lack of exercise

Peole who have metabolic syndrome often have two other problems that can either cause the condition or make it worse:

· Excess blood clotting

· Low levels of inflammation throughout the body

Signs and tests

According to the American Heart Association and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, metabolic syndrome is present if you have three or more of the following signs:

· Blood pressure equal to or higher than 130/85 mmHg

· Fasting blood sugar (glucose) equal to or higher than 100 mg/dL

· Large waist circumference (length around the waist):

o Men – 40 inches or more

o Women – 35 inches or more

· Low HDL cholesterol:

o Men – under 40 mg/dL

o Women – under 50 mg/dL

· Triglycerides equal to or higher than 150 mg/dL

Tests that may be done to diagnose metabolic syndrome include:

· Blood pressure measurement

· Glucose test

· HDL cholesterol level

· LDL cholesterol level

· Total cholesterol level

· Triglyceride level


Preventing (and managing) the condition involves:

· Eating a diet low in fat, with a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain products

· Getting regular exercise, at least 30 minutes of moderate activity almost every day

· Losing weight so that your body mass index (BMI) is less than 25

· Managing blood pressure and blood sugar

· Not smoking

· Trying to include fish, preferably oily fish, in your diet at least twice a week


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