Prepare to see more pediatric erectile dysfunction

April 1, 2011

Based on an increase in numbers of cases of diabetes and myocardial infarction in the pediatri population, expect to see more erectile dysfunction at unimaginable ages.

In January and February, Contemporary Pediatrics published articles on the epidemic of pediatric obesity, a challenge that is not only one of the most important facing medicine today but also one of the most critical trends facing our society. Those articles included encouraging calls for physicians to fight the pediatric obesity epidemic not just in our clinics but also in the political world and through the news media.

To the already depressingly long list of complications and previously rare diseases seen as a result of this epidemic, I would like to add another-and, at the same time, offer a ray of hope in how we might capture the attention of obese young males when little else has worked.

All of us who treat children are seeing discouraging numbers of cases of type 2 diabetes in kids as young as 11 or 12. Many researchers have observed that we can expect waves of myocardial infarction (MI) as these kids hit their early thirties.

I am a family practitioner with a wide range of interests. I have seen many children in my practice who are overwhelmingly Hispanic and thus with high rates of diabetes. I have an interest in the medicine of sexuality, and at one point in my career spent a year and a half running a part-time clinic that treated sexual dysfunction. These 2 interests have combined to produce anecdotal evidence of the existence of pediatric ED.

The penile artery that is responsible for erections is small and vulnerable. Even in the teen years, its blood flow is only about 1/500 of that of the coronary arteries that later cause so much grief in the form of angina and MI. Thus men are usually at risk of ED at younger ages than when they become at risk for MI.