Obese children and teens may have an increased risk for blood clots in their veins, called venous thromboembolism (VTE), a new study suggests.
“This is important because the incidence of pediatric VTE has increased dramatically over the last 20 years, and childhood obesity remains highly prevalent in the United States,” lead study author Dr. Elizabeth Halvorson, assistant professor of pediatrics at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., said in a hospital news release.
While the study found a connection between obesity in youngsters and blood clots, the research wasn’t designed to prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
“Our study presents data from a single institution with a relatively small sample size,” Halvorson pointed out. “But it does demonstrate an association between obesity and VTE in children, which should be explored further in larger future studies,” she added.
Obesity is a known risk factor for blood clots in adults, but previous research in youngsters has produced mixed findings. Untreated, blood clots can cause both immediate and long-term health problems.
In the current study, researchers reviewed the medical charts of 88 children. The kids were between the ages of 2 and 18. All had been diagnosed with blood clots in their veins between 2000 and 2012.
More than 37 percent of the patients were obese, the study authors found. Most of the children also had other known risk factors for blood clots, the researchers said.
After adjusting for other risk factors, such as bloodstream infection and time spent in an intensive care unit, the investigators still found a small but statistically significant association between obesity and blood clots in children and teens.
The study was published in the January issue of the journal Hospital Pediatrics.
The American Society of Hematology has more about blood clots.