I’ve waited for this for a long time. Several years ago (I believe it was 2004), I was a facilitator at an education program for families of kids with newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes. I will never forget listening to a physician give a talk on kidney disease. She presented horrifying statistics about how many kids with diabetes would grow up to be adults with kidney disease. Someone asked if those stats weren’t decreasing since intensive diabetes management had become the norm and she said NO. I couldn’t believe it.
Now there are at least two studies that show the numbers are actually decreasing. One has to be a member of a health professions database in order to read the article I saw today, so I will sum it up here.
Over 1600 adolescents were studied for eye (retina) changes, kidney function, and nerve function. The researchers found that retinopathy and kidney damage decreased in those who either took multiple daily injections or used an insulin pump.
Here’s the conclusion: “The decline in retinopathy supports contemporary guidelines that recommend lower glycemic targets and use of MDI/CSII in children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes” (Downie, et al., 2011, abstract).
It makes sense that using intensive, or physiologic, diabetes management (doing for ourselves what our bodies would be doing if they could) would actually pay off. Now the results are coming in. This study looks at kids/adolescents, so we might have to wait longer to get results for adults. Those of us who lived through the animal-insulin-1-or-2-shots-a-day period, have to live with the damage that approach may have caused. We can work hard to do good things for our bodies going forward, though.
Here’s the reference: Downie, E., Craig, M.E., Hing, Stephen, Cusumano, J., Chan, Alfred K.F., & Donaghue, K. (20110). Continued reduction in prevalence of retinopathy in adolescents with type 1 diabetes: Role of insulin therapy and glycemic control. Diabetes Care, 34(11), 2368-2373.