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Babies with diabetes can safely be treated with tablets

By Editor
5th June 2018
Pregnancy, Research Type 1 diabetes

Babies born with diabetes can now be treated successfully with tablets instead of injections, a new study suggests.

Researchers focused on a decade of data collected from children diagnosed with neonatal diabetes who switched from receiving insulin injections to sulphonylurea tablets.

Researchers from the University of Exeter have collaborated with groups in Norway, Italy, France and Poland to analyse findings from 81 people from 20 different countries.

The results showed they were successfully treated through sulphonylurea tablets and had excellent blood sugar control over the long-term.

Professor Andrew Hattersley, who is the lead of the genetic diabetes research team at the University of Exeter Medical School, said: “Switching from regular insulin injections was life-changing for these people who had been on insulin all their life; many described it as “a miracle treatment”.

“Not only does this eradicate the need to inject with insulin several times a day, it also means much better blood sugar control. This is the first study to establish that this treatment is safe and works excellently for at least 10 years and all indications are that it will continue to work for decades more. This is great news for the thousands of patients who have made the switch from insulin.”

Professor Andrew Hattersley and Dr Pamela Bowman led the research

Dr Pamela Bowman of the University of Exeter Medical School, who led the study, said: “It was incredibly exciting to help people make the switch from insulin to simple tablets – but the question was, would the benefits last?

Half of people with type 2 diabetes treated with sulphonylureas no longer have good blood sugar control after five years. Our study has found that in neonatal diabetes, the tablets are safe and they work long term – with 93 per cent of people in the study remaining on sulphonylureas alone after 10 years, with excellent blood sugar control.”

Diabetes UK’s Dr Elizabeth Robertson said: “It’s so important that people living with rare forms of diabetes, like neonatal diabetes, receive the right diagnosis and treatment. That’s why we are delighted to have been able to help fund this vital work, demonstrating for the first time that sulphonylurea tablets are a safe and effective way for some people with neonatal diabetes to manage their condition for the long term. Moving forward, we hope research will uncover ways to prevent the developmental issues people with neonatal diabetes face.”

The paper, ‘Effectiveness and safety of long-term treatment with sulphonylureas in neonatal diabetes due to KCNJ11 mutations: an international cohort study’ was published in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology.

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