Glucose dysregulation (GD), including prediabetes and diabetes mellitus (DM), is a common complication of transfusion-dependent β-thalassemia (TDT) patients. The prevalence increases with age and magnitude of iron overload, affecting a significant proportion of patients. According to the international guidelines, the development of GD is frequently asymptomatic. Therefore, an early diagnosis requires an annual oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) in all TDT patients aged ten years or older.
This retrospective study aims to evaluate the prevalence of GD in a homogenous population of prepubertal TDT patients and to enhance understanding of the pathogenesis and progression of glucose homeostasis in this group of patients.
This study underlines the concept that the spectrum of glucose tolerance in TDT patients represents a continuum of glucose homeostasis disturbances and that prepubertal patients with IFG are at higher risk of developing a further deterioration of glucose metabolism with time. Moreover, it appears that one-third of adult TDT patients with normal fasting glucose may develop GD in the second-third decade of life. Thus, early intervention could help to prevent an expected further decline of glucose tolerance.