Recognising low blood sugars could help prevent brain damage in newborn babies
Researchers from The University of Manchester, and the
Manchester Biomedical Research Centre, studying a rare and
potentially lethal childhood disease - which is the clinical
opposite of diabetes - have made an important discovery.
The team has found newborn babies with transient (also known as
short-term) congenital hyperinsulinism (CHI) are at risk of
developing, long-term disability or brain damage due to low blood
Previously it was thought only babies with the most severe form,
known as persistent CHI, were at risk of brain damage. The study,
published in the journal Frontiers in Endocrinology, will now
inform pediatric practice.
CHI is a disease which affects newborn babies where their bodies
produce far too much insulin and as a result their blood sugars are
very low. It was already known babies born with the persistent form
of CHI were at risk of brain damage and developmental delay but it
was always believed that the transient form of CHI was less severe
and did not carry the same risks.
Dr Karen Cosgrove, from the University's Faculty of Life
Sciences who helped to carry out the study, said: "Our new research
proves it is important for all babies with CHI to be treated
promptly to prevent low blood sugars occurring."
Researchers from the University's Faculty of Life Sciences and
Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences along with consultants from
the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital part of Central Manchester
University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust teamed up for the
research. Royal Manchester Children's Hospital is the base for the
Northern Congenital Hyperinsulinism (NORCHI) service which is a
highly specialized service for the treatment of this condition.
The study found that a third of children have evidence of brain
damage from low blood sugars occurring at an early age.
Professor Peter Clayton, BRC lead for Paediatrics and Child
Health said: "Based on these findings, the team recommends that any
baby with CHI, whether they turn out to have transient or
persistent CHI, should have immediate and sustained treatment of
low blood sugar to prevent long-term disability."
Doctor Indi Banerjee, Consultant in Paediatric Endocrinology at
Royal Manchester Children's Hospital and clinical lead for NORCHI,
said: "It has long been recognized that low blood sugars in these
babies can cause brain damage. This research shows the damage
happens even in children with the milder version of the disease,
where low sugars improve after a few days. The damage to the
developing brain in these children can be prevented by promptly
recognizing and correcting the low blood sugars."