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January 31, 2004

Alternative Therapies and Explanations, Complications

Question from Lakewood, Colorado, USA:

I have read that benfotiamine may be beneficial for avoiding complications. Currently benfotiamine is classified by the FDA as a supplement and can be purchased in the USA. I have seen dosing information for adults on the web but have never seen it for a child or adolescent. Is benfotiamine safe to give to a child? If so what is the recommended dosage? If unknown is there any research being done to determine its safety and efficacy in children? When are the results of this research likely to be available?

Answer:

Benfotiamine is a proprietary lipid soluble derivative of Vitamin B1 or thiamine that, as you point out, is now available as a dietary supplement in the U.S. (see a previous answer).

Whilst there have been a number of reputable studies that have demonstrated its efficacy in preventing the complications of diabetes in laboratory animals, I can find no reports of similar studies in man on ‘prevention’ although there has been work suggesting a beneficial effect on diabetic neuropathy. In the absence of any confirmatory studies on its long term effects I believe that the supplement is contraindicated in children and that the emphasis should continue to be on control of blood sugar using a Lispro/Glargine regimen or a pump.

I believe that thorough clinical studies in children are unlikely to take place in the U.S. because of the huge cost of what must inevitably be quite a long term study, the difficulties of compliance and the uncertainty of transplanting effects in laboratory animals to children besides which it seems probable that infrared glucose sensors that can reliably control an insulin pump will before very long offer an even better way to avoid complications.

DOB