According to the latest guideline, weight loss surgery is now available for excessively over-weight preadolescents.
The fresh guidelines issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics is supported by previous research showing that weight-loss surgery in adolescents creates lasting results and almost no complications.
Many patients reported they got rid of the weight-induced health conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
Once, the surgery was performed on a child younger than 12, even previous studies focused mostly on adolescents. The operation noted no side effects on growth and development.
Are Children and Teens Ready for This Surgery?
Dr.Sarah Armstrong, a Duke University pediatrics professor and the policy’s lead author, describes the surgery as safe and effective, even it has been performed on young patients that may not understand the whole set of implications.
She doesn’t do surgery, but she recalls the youngest patients that stepped in the clinic where she works, and the teen was only 14 years old. She adds that after the admission, the surgery is able to change lives but also brings great responsibility.
Over 5 million U.S. children and teens suffer from obesity, a rate that doubled in the last 20 years. Some of them developed weight-induced health conditions, such as liver disease, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and diabetes. However, the majority of children can’t benefit from obesity surgery, either because some public and private health insurance do not cover the high expenses, or they live at a considerable distance from the clinic. The fees can rise up to $20,000, but the decisive obstacle consists in the resistance amongst pediatricians.
In what consists the resistance? Some believe the surgery may impacts negatively the child’s development, while others think “weight is a personal responsibility rather than a medical problem.”
Dr. Rebecca Carter, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, states that the latest guide offers pediatricians clear points regarding the referral and evaluation of young patients.
Up-to-date statistics signify that obesity surgery amongst underage have tripled in the last 20 years, but the number is less than 2,000/year.
The eligibility criteria set by the academy’s recommendation is that children should have a body mass index of at least 40, and 35 if they developed diseases due to obesity.