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August 7, 1999

Alternative Therapies and Explanations

Question from Flint, Michigan, USA:

I recently read a story about a 14 year old girl who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Soon after being diagnosed she went to an Institute in California. The story stated that the girl initially had a glucose reading of about 500. She went on a special diet and exercise program and has been able to maintain a glucose level between 80-110 without taking any insulin shots. I contacted this Institute and they said they have had 4 or 5 Type 1 diabetics successfully go through the plan but they said it is better if the individual has been recently diagnosed because the pancreas does need to produce a small amount of insulin. The girl that the story was written about has been off of insulin for 2 years now. Have you ever heard of this program called "newstart" that they use? Is this really legitimate and if so, why haven't I ever read or heard anything about this before? [email protected]

Answer:

I have not heard of ‘newstart’ or this Institute and am very skeptical that a 14 year old could have a blood sugar of about 500�mg/dl and not require insulin. The great majority of new onset diabetics in the US have Type 1A (autoimmune) diabetes for which the treatment is insulin.

There are a few children with Type 1B diabetes. This might be a possible explanation for the cases that this Institute described. Most of these children are insulin dependent at the start but may come off insulin after a short period. These cases are particularly common in Hispanic and African American families. Other possibilities include the various forms of MODY or Maturity Onset Diabetes in the Young and the extremely rare mitochondrial forms of diabetes, which are usually associated with other problems like deafness.

Finally of course Type 1A Diabetes may present in the preclinical phase with a transient glucose intolerance as a result of some stress and then revert to normal blood glucose levels until the clinical stage finally develops. These cases should have a positive antibody test.

DOB