A new, decades-long study has found that early, preventative control of glucose during the onset of type 1 diabetes can lead to significant long-term health benefits. Specifically, the risk of kidney disease is cut in half by early glucose control, and the risk of kidney failure is seemingly decreased as well.
The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and used research originally conducted by the Diabetes Control and Complication Trial and the Epidemiology of Diabetes Interventions and Complications Research Group. The original study, which took place from 1983 to 1993, followed people with type 1 diabetes who had only been diagnosed a few years earlier and had yet to develop significant complications.
Half of the subjects received at-the-time standard glucose control, which was one to two insulin injections a day with daily testing of either blood or urine. Randomly assigned patients for the experimental group were given intensive treatment, which required keeping glucose levels at close to normal as possible with at least three insulin injections a day or the use of an insulin pump, as well as frequent examinations of glucose levels. The DCCT study ended in 1993, and all the subjects attempted to maintain diabetes control after.
The new study followed up with the subjects decades later, and found that the group with the intensive glucose treatments had developed half as much long-term kidney damage as the control group.
Approximately 26 million Americans have diabetes, with type 1 diabetes making up 5 to 10 percent of the diagnosed cases.