A five-year-old boy whose chronic diabetes meant he had never spoken said his first words just days after starting a ‘miracle’ treatment. Jack Neighbour suffered from health complications related to neonatal diabetes and it meant he could only communicate with his family through picture cards. But just six weeks after a genetic test by a team at the University of Exeter he switched from insulin injections to tablets. While the sensational headlines here is certainly uplifting, the ‘miracle’ treatment here is probably no more than the common oral diabetic agents, likely sulphonyureas here, that are already widely used for many diabetics for a long time.
Neonatal diabetes is a form of diabetes occurring within 6 months of birth, and are commonly wrongly classified as type 1 diabetes (insulin dependent diabetes). Patients are often put on insulin injections from a tender age, often with unsatisfactory control. An astute endocrinologist will be able to easily differentiate this form of diabetes from type 1, insulin requiring diabetes. A genetic test, which is widely available nowadays can detect the presence of a mutation causing neonatal diabetes. With genetic testing result, and the presence of clinical features well supporting a diagnosis of neonatal diabetes, there is a good chance that patients can be successfully converted from insulin treatment to oral agents, often with marked improvement in their sugar control and quality of life.
The story here underscore the importance of seeking proper treatment for your diabetes, and consulting an endocrinologist promptly when there are unusual features in your diabetes that does not commensurate with the garden variety diabetes which are ubiquitous nowadays.