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Diabetes and Tooth Decay

Born in Bradford is one of the world’s largest longitudinal studies, involving 14,000 babies and their families: Winifred Robinson has been alongside the research from the start.

Born in Bradford is one of the world’s largest longitudinal studies, involving 14,000 babies and their families and reaping data on all aspects of health as the children grow. Winifred Robinson has been alongside the research from the start.

With the 14,000 youngsters now entering their teenage years the researchers are tracking a wide range of data, from mental illness through to what might determine whether they need to wear braces. Over half of the families in the study are of Pakistani origin and previous programmes have investigated the links between cousin marriage, infant mortality and a number of rare conditions seen in the city.

In this programme Winifred follows researchers trying to determine why the city is seeing an increase in type 2 diabetes in youngsters. When Consultant Paediatrician Matthew Mathai first started work in the city eleven years ago it was rare to see children with type 2 diabetes and yet, today, he and his team are facing rising numbers of cases and have fears that there are many more that are in a pre-diabetic state and not receiving the interventions that might help them.

Winifred meets 14-year-old Zaira, who was diagnosed two weeks ago and has been plucking up the courage to tell her best friend that she has diabetes. She fears people will jump to the conclusion that it’s because she’s overweight and says there is a stigma to getting it so young. Dietician Alison Woodhead is working with Zaira to look at how she can exercise more and eat a more balanced diet.

A fortnight in and Zaira says that she is definitely trying hard to turn things around: she has largely given up chocolate and fizzy drinks. She is also going to the park with her dad and using gym equipment at home to work out. For Alison it is good news, but she worries about how easy it will be to continue the changes once winter sets in. The other big problem is that Bradford is home to a vast number of takeaway outlets, many of which are placed around schools in the city.

Winifred will also be investigating the high levels of tooth decay amongst youngsters in Bradford, with 40 per cent of five-year-olds having decay and a child a week needing to have all of their baby teeth extracted. This compares to the national average of 25 per cent, which in itself is quite high. Dr Peter Day is following a thousand of the youngsters in Born in Bradford to see whether this early tooth extraction has an impact on the need for braces in adolescents.

Producer: Sue Mitchell

Available now

28 minutes