Do booster shots actually work to get a child over the curb in terms of their obesity? The CDC says yes; but you’ll just need to wait a bit.
There’s another research paper from the Centers for Disease Control this week in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine that will be of particular interest to pediatricians or parents of overweight children. It’s called “Buprenorphine or Oben Phen? Booster Shots Reduce Rapidly Development of Obese Kids,” and it’s designed to set the stage for a retrospective study of 816 children born between 2000 and 2007. That study, what’s called of the National Obesity Surveillance System, was designed to see what had happened between the age of 14 months and 18 months after their parents took a two-shot regimen for their kids with ADHD. The analysis led by the CDC’s Valerie Linsanville and Steven Hayes looked only at kids who had qualified because their blood pressure had gone above 105/60. Here’s the very short version:
“… after two booster doses of buprenorphine, patients’ weight decreased. There was a statistically significant difference in weight gains among these 816 children when the data were compared with health-population databases. Overall, infants at the age of 14 months gained a small amount of weight, and at 18 months they gained less weight than the previous quarter. In 14 months, they gained fewer calories than the previous quarter. Other key findings included a significant effect of the test injection on body composition; that the children who were the most obese (those whose body mass index was more than 35) showed the greatest reduction after treatment, whereas children whose BMI was less than 20 lost weight the least. In contrast, children who were not obese before were least affected by the booster injection, and their weight had not changed. Over time, even children who were not obese before who were most affected by the booster dose had lost weight, but these gains were small compared with those of the youngest obese children.
I’ve written before that medical consensus is that when the parent asks a pediatrician or a hospital or clinic to give a kid a shot of buprenorphine or a placebo that the kid would naturally get something like four or five shots that same day, and even if the doctor or the hospital or the clinic overreacts, the kids get what they need or what’s recommended. I was sort of surprised, though, that the study found that children’s weight did change at all after a booster shot.
Sure, our experience with ADHD drugs like Ritalin, Adderall and Strattera has led us to think that, to be effective, these medications must do at least one good thing, like slightly lessening the child’s concentration span or increasing their feelings of giddiness. But it’s pretty hard to find an effect like that on an obese child, because after all, obese children have their minds set to the point that they can’t function normally. So I’m not sure how dramatic any effect on weight would be in such a case.
Now, when it comes to being obese and coexisting diabetes, I’m not at all convinced that a whopping shot of buprenorphine, in addition to diet and exercise and a special diet for diabetes, would do anything besides slow things down for two or three months until the kid finally saw a doctor for a full assessment. However, while weight gain is clearly a real concern, there are so many variables involved in this equation that I’m not sure we can make much of a comparison between two shots of buprenorphine and a period where a kid is overweight. (It’s worth noting, though, that in some European countries where buprenorphine treatment has been going on for some time and where tests have shown that it doesn’t increase blood pressure or raise anxiety or increase heart disease, people seem to have gained a lot more weight than the babies in the United States, even over the relatively short time of buprenorphine shots. So there’s a trade-off to consider there.)
I would say all of this should be of some interest to parents. But I also hope that the next time you meet a pediatrician or anyone else who deals with kids with diabetes, blood pressure or a host of other conditions, that they’re aware of this research and do what they can