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June 21, 2006

Research: Causes and Prevention, Research: Cure

Question from Fort Lewis, Washington, USA:

I am a mother of a wonderful four year old boy and am six months pregnant with a girl. I have had type one since I was 14 and I check my blood sugar very often. I checked my son's blood sugar just to see what it would be and it was 145 mg/dl [8.1 mmol/L] after eating. Please tell me that it is normal. The pediatricians up here in Washington don't seem to be concerned about it, but I am. What else can I do to help prevent type 1 for my son and unborn daughter? I don't want them to go through this. Is anybody even trying to find a cure before it happens?

Answer:

Your son’s blood sugar of 145 mg/dl [8.1 mmol/L], unfortunately, is a borderline value as you already know. However, stress, what he actually ate, illness, etc. can all have an effect on blood glucose readings. So, if he has no symptoms (not peeing excessively, drinking more than usual, urinating more overnight, etc.), then I would suggest that you actually monitor his blood sugar readings for a few days very intensively. Just before breakfast and one to two hours after breakfast plus just before lunch and one to two hours after lunch and just before dinner and one to two hours after dinner are the recommended times for checking. If this is a spurious value with just a random elevation and all the other values are normal (pre-meal values all should be less than 100 mg/dl [5.6 mmol/L] and post-meal values should all ideally be less than 126 mg/dl [7.0 mmol/L]), then nothing need be done at all. Your primary care physician can order special islet cell antibody and glutamic acid decarboxylase antibody GAD-65) blood tests to see if there is any evidence of inflammation. The risks for you having a child with type 1 diabetes when you have type 1 diabetes are approximately 2 to 5% depending upon which genes you randomly shared with your child. The good news is that this also means that the risks of NOT having a child with diabetes are in the 95 to 98% range! Your next child has the same risks for the same reasons. You may also want to talk specifically with your obstetrician and your diabetology team since they can give you more specific information.

And, finally, yes, there is an enormous amount of research around the world and in the U.S. looking for not only cures, but also ways to identify and prevent type 1 diabetes. You can find more information on the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International; American Diabetes Association; and Diabetes Research Institute web sites.

SB