DEAR DR. DONOHUE: This past week, our 29-year-old daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Our family is devastated. We thought this was a juvenile illness. What is the long-term prognosis for this disease? Should pregnancy be avoided? She was hoping to start her family this year or next. – B.N.

ANSWER:
Type 1 diabetes used to be called juvenile diabetes because it often strikes at young ages, but it doesn’t do so exclusively. The name change reflects that fact. It also was called insulin-requiring diabetes because almost all type 1 diabetics must inject insulin for blood sugar control.

The long-term prognosis for diabetes is good if the person can keep blood sugar controlled. Diabetes has many complications – kidney disease, heart disease, artery disease, nerve disturbance and eye problems – but good control of blood sugar can usually keep these complications to a minimum. Most people with type 1 diabetes lead the kind of lives they wish to lead, and most can be as active as they desire. Nowadays, people with diabetes check their blood sugar routinely and frequently adjust their insulin dose accordingly. New varieties of insulin make it easier to keep blood sugar within norms.

Your daughter can have children unless her doctor has told her otherwise. It’s very important for a potential diabetic mother to maintain near-normal blood sugars at the time of conception and throughout pregnancy to prevent any disturbances in the growth and development of the embryo and fetus. These goals are usually achievable.

The diabetes booklet gives an overview of this common condition and its treatment. Readers can obtain a copy by writing: Dr. Donohue – No. 402, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./$6 Can. with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I will come right to the point. My grandson, who is 11 years old, has just started on growth hormone medicine. A couple of days ago, this article appeared in our paper. I have enclosed it in the letter. As you can well imagine, it caused great concern in our family, even though what happened occurred a long time ago. Since our grandson has taken this medication, he has had stomachaches and also has a sort of faraway look. Are these expected reactions to the medicine? Is the brain disease mentioned in the article something to worry about? – E.L.

ANSWER:
The article you sent dealt with issues that occurred before 1985, when human growth hormone was obtained from the pituitary glands of dead humans. It centered on a recent trial in France over complications arising from this treatment. Similar complications happened in the United States. Between 1963 and 1985, 7,700 American children were treated with human growth hormone obtained from the pituitary glands of deceased people. Twenty-six of those children died from a rare brain infection called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Growth hormone is now synthetically made in laboratories, and this complication is no longer a threat.

I don’t believe that either of your grandson’s current problems can be traced to growth hormone. The doctor taking care of the boy is well versed in detecting any side effects traceable to the hormone.

I can honestly tell you that I would not hesitate to offer growth hormone treatment to any child who needed it.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I wrote to you asking about the efficacy of Vicks VapoRub as a relief from the discomfort of peripheral neuropathy. You have not replied. Hope to hear from you soon. – R.K.

ANSWER:
Vicks VapoRub is a good product, and my mother used it on my sister, brother and me all the time. However, it is used for so many conditions not listed on its label that it has taken on the air of a panacea for many people.

I find it hard to believe it can be effective for peripheral neuropathy, a nerve disturbance that can cause pain, interfere with muscle action or do both. It won’t hurt you, so you can try it if you wish. Let me know the results.

Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Readers may also order health newsletters from www.rbmamall.com.


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