Dietary gluten in pregnancy is related to an increased risk of type one diabetes in the child

Adapted from Antvorskov JC et al. Association between maternal gluten intake and type one diabetes in offspring. BMJ 22 September 2018

This research was based on a study of Danish women’s food frequency questionnaires completed 25 weeks after their first pregnancies ended. The incidence of diabetes in the children was then noted from January 1996 till May 2016 from the Danish Registry of Childhood and Adolescent Diabetes. After certain exclusions had been made over 63,500 were analysed.

The mean gluten intake per day was 13g ranging from 7g to more than 20g per day.

The incidence of diabetes in the child increased proportionately according to gluten intake. The women who had  20g or more intake had double the type one diabetes in their offspring compared to those who ate 7g or less.

As type one diabetes has risen seemingly inexplicably over the last few decades, there has been a lot of consideration into possible environmental triggers. Gluten is a storage protein found in wheat, rye and barley.  In animal studies, a wheat free diet in the mother has been found to dramatically reduce the incidence of diabetes in the child.

It has been suggested that gluten can affect gut permeability, gut microbiotica and cause low grade inflammation.

Although there is this association between gluten and type one diabetes it could be that other factors, for example the advanced glycation products from the baking process, that are to blame.  Unwanted additives to grain  could also be a factor eg mycotoxins, heavy metals, pesticides and fertilisers.

Mothers who eat a lot of gluten may similarly feed their children a lot of gluten. They also may pass gliadin from wheat into the breast milk.

Although this research suggests that high amounts of gluten may be problematic in pregnancy, further research will need to be done before dietary recommendations are likely to be changed.

Metformin improves side effects of steroid treatment

From Pernicova I et al. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol 25 Feb 2020

Long-term glucocorticoids, most often prednisolone, are prescribed for about 3% of European adults. The long term exposure can raise metabolic, infectious and cardiovascular risks.

This was a trial of 53 adults who had inflammatory disease treated with prednisolone but did not have diabetes, who were given either 12 weeks of metformin or a placebo.

The dose of prednisolone was 20mg or more for the first month and then 10mg or more for the next 12 weeks. The dose of metformin given was up to 850mg three times a day.

What improved:

Facial fatness was in seen in 52% of the placebo group but only 10% in the metformin group.

Increased blood sugar was seen in 33% of the placebo group and none of the metformin group.

There was improvement in insulin resistance, beta cell function, liver function, fibrinolysis, carotid intima media thickness, inflammatory parameters and disease activity severity markers in the metformin group.

There were fewer cases of pneumonia, moderate to severe infections and all causes of hospitalisation for adverse events in the metformin group.

What got worse:

Diarrhea was worse in the metformin group.

What didn’t get better:

Visceral to subcutaneous fat ratio was unchanged between the groups.

My comment: Looks like a clear winner for adding metformin to long term prednisolone treatments.

Younger women more likely to get urine infections with Flozins

From Univadis Nakhleh A et al. Journal of Diabetes Complications 18th April 2020

It is well known that patients on Flozins are much more prone to urine infections and thrush due to the extra sugar in the urine which is excreted by taking these drugs, also known as SGLT2 inhibitors.

An Israeli study of over 6 thousand women with type two diabetes sought to clarify who was more or less likely to be affected by this very annoying problem.

They found that those most likely to get urine infections were:

Women who had existing gastro intestinal problems

Pre-menopausal women

Women who had been taking oral oestrogen in the form of the contraceptive pill or HRT

Women less likely to be affected:

were older (over 70)

had prior existing chronic kidney disease

My comment: From my GP experience I found that these drugs were highly effective and generally well tolerated. A few patients were indeed badly affected by recurrent urine infections and thrush and had to discontinue the drugs.

 

 

NICE: Hydrogen peroxide for impetigo

 Adapted from :NICE issues antimicrobial prescribing guidance for impetigo

curated by Pavankumar Kamat UK Medical News 28 Feb 2020

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recently published antimicrobial prescribing guidance which describes the antimicrobial strategy for adults, young people and children aged ≥72 hours with impetigo.

According to the new NICE guidance, GPs should prescribe topical hydrogen peroxide 1% instead of topical antibiotics for patients with localised non-bullous impetigo.
The guidance states that hydrogen peroxide 1% cream is as effective as topical antibiotics in patients with localised, non-bullous impetigo, provided they are not systemically unwell or at risk for complications.

If hydrogen peroxide 1% cream is not suitable or if symptoms have worsened or not improved, a short course of a topical antibiotic may be considered.
A topical or oral antibiotic is recommended for patients with widespread non-bullous impetigo, provided they are not systemically unwell or at risk for complications. Oral antibiotic treatment is recommended for patients who have bullous impetigo or if they are systemically unwell or at high risk for complications.
NICE does not recommend a combination of topical and oral antibiotic. There is no evidence that the combination works more effectively than a topical treatment alone.
The primary choice of topical antibiotic is fusidic acid 2%, and the secondary option is mupirocin 2%. The drug of choice for first-line oral antibiotic therapy is flucloxacillin, with clarithromycin and erythromycin (for pregnant women) as secondary choices.

References
Impetigo: antimicrobial prescribing: NICE guideline [NG153]. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. 2020 February.

My comment: Impetigo is a common skin infection caused by staphloccus which tends to colonise up people’s noses. It spreads rapidly in the nursery and primary school environments. Previously it was treated with oral penicillin. Children are advised to stay off school to reduce spread. Any effective topical, non antibiotic treatment, is welcome as this will help reduce antibiotic resistance.

Stress may damage your immune response long term

Adapted from: Stress related disorders and physical health.  Song H. et al. BMJ 26 Oct 19.

This Swedish study of almost 145,000 brothers and sisters showed that any sort of anxiety or stress disorder was associated with an increased risk of life threatening infections, even when familial background, physical and psychiatric problems were adjusted for.

The study went on between 1987 and 2013. The stresses included post traumatic stress disorder, acute stress reaction, adjustment disorder and others. The patients were matched with healthy siblings when possible or matched comparative children from the general population.  They then looked for diagnosis of severe infection in the coming years such as sepsis, endocarditis, meningitis and other infections.

Severe infection rates per 1,000 person years were 2.9 for the stressed person, 1.7 for the healthy sibling, and 1.3 for the matched person in the general population.

They found that the effects were worse the earlier the age the diagnosis of the stress occurred.

Treatment with serotonin re-uptake inhibitors for PTSD seemed to reduce the negative effects on the immune system when given within a year of the stress diagnosis.

This research builds on information that PTSD produces more gastrointestinal, skin, musculoskeletal, neurological, heart and lung disorders.  Cardiac mortality has been found to be raised 27% and autoimmune disorder by 46%.

Why this happens could be due to the interplay between biological, psychological and social factors. Increased inflammatory response is considered by Song and colleagues to be a likely mechanism. Increased levels of interleukin 6, interleukin 1 beta, tumour necrosis factor alpha and interferon gamma have been found in those with PTSD.

PTSD has a heritability factor of 5-20% which is similar to what is found in families with depression.  It is likely to be polygenic.

Talking based therapies are generally even better for PTSD than drugs, so earlier intervention may have long term benefits not just on mental health, but physical health as well.

BMJ 2019;367:16036

Fitter, better, sooner

From BJGP May 2020 by Hilary Swales et al.

Having an operation is a major event in anyone’s life. There is a lot a patient can do to improve their physical and mental health before surgery that will improve their recovery and long term health.

Fitter, better, sooner is a toolkit was produced by the Royal College of Anaesthetists with input from GPs, surgeons and patients.

The toolkit has, an electronic leaflet, an explanatory animation and six operation specific leaflet for cataract surgery, hysteroscopy, cystoscopy, hernia, knee arthroscopy and total knee joint replacement.

These can be seen at: https://www.rcoa.ac.uk/patient-information/preparing-surgery-fitter-better-sooner

The colleges want more active participation with patients in planning for their care.

The most common complications after surgery include wound infection and chest infection. Poor cardiorespiratory fitness worsens post op complications. Even modest improvement in activity can improve chest and heart function to some extent.  Keeping alcohol intake low can improve wound healing. Stopping smoking is also important for almost all complications. Measures to reduce anaemia also reduce immediate and long term problems from surgery and also reduce the need for blood transfusion. Blood transfusion is associated with poorer outcomes particularly with cancer surgery. HbA1Cs over 8.5% or 65 mmol/mol causes more wound complications and infections.  Blood pressure needs to be controlled to reduce cardiovascular instability during the operation and cardiovascular and neurological events afterwards.

This toolkit is already being used in surgical pre-assessment clinics but access to the materials in GP practices will also help. After all, the GPs are the ones who are initially referring the patients for surgery, and improving participation early can only be helpful.

It is hoped that this initiative will result in patients having fewer complications, better outcomes from surgery but also from their improved lifestyle.

 

Bariatic surgery doubles congenital abnormalities in babies

From BMJ 30 Nov 19

A retrospective analysis from Quebec of 2 million pregnant women who had delivered between 1989 and 2016 showed that offspring of women who had become pregnant after bariatric surgery had roughly twice the risk of birth defects compared to women who were not obese or who were obese but had not had surgery.

The defects were mainly heart and musculoskeletal defects.

My comment: This short report does not go into possible causes for this. You would have thought that the risk would have been reduced to the level of the non obese women. I wonder if nutritional issues have a part to play as after bariatric surgery long term vitamin supplements need to be taken. 

Public Health Collaboration conference online a great success

The Public Health collaboration online conference 2020  was very successful.  The videos are available on You Tube for free making the conference even more accessible for everyone who needs advice on what to eat to stay healthy.

If you are able to contribute to the PHC fund to keep up our good work please do so. Sam Feltham has suggested £2.00.  This is via the PHC site.

This year there were contributions from mainly the UK but also the USA.

Visitors to this site will be very pleased to know that keeping your weight in the normal range, keeping your blood sugars tightly controlled, keeping your vitamin D levels up, and keeping fit from activity and exercise, are all important factors in having a good result if you are unfortunate enough to be affected by Covid-19. We have been promoting these factors in our book and website for several years now, mainly with the view to making life more enjoyable, especially for people with diabetes, now and in the future. The reduction in the severity  to the effects of   coronavirus is a side effect of these healthy living practices.

Several talks went into the factors and reasons for this, but in a nutshell, if you are in a pro-inflammatory state already, you will have a much more pronounced cytokine inflammatory response to the virus than is useful for clearing the virus, and you end up with inflammed lung tissue which leaks fluid thereby impairing your blood oxygen levels.

A talk that I found particularly apt was the talk from a GP who had had a heart attack at the age of 44 despite a lack of risk factors except for massive stress. He gives a list of self care practices that helped him. I would also include playing with your animals. Emma and I are cat lovers and can vouch for this!

My talk is about VR Fitness, which was the only talk this year which was specifically exercise related. The Oculus Quest has only been out a year and has been sold out since shortly after New Year. I was fortunate enough to buy one in anticipation of my imminent retirement, and it has been great as an exercise tool over the long, cold, dark winter and more useful than I had ever anticipated over the lockdown as a social tool.

There were several very professional cooking and baking demonstrations on the conference this year, and indeed, this could not have otherwise happened on a traditional stage format.  We had low carb “rice”, bread, pancakes and pizza demonstrations which may well help you if you prefer to see how it is done step by step or if you want to broaden your repertoire.

I was particularly taken with the pizza base idea from Emma Porter and I will follow up with this in a later post.  The whole video is available from the PHC  site which takes you to all the videos on You Tube.

 

 

 

Self caring during illness

Adapted from online presentation by Beverly Bostock ANP 7 May 2020

If you have diabetes you are more at risk of serious complications from Covid-19 and should seek medical advice early in the illness.

Any febrile illness can raise your blood sugars, including the prodromal phase when you don’t otherwise have symptoms. Once you are aware that you are coming down with something there are some useful ways of remembering how to monitor yourself.

Particularly for insulin users:

S – SUGAR – check your blood sugar more frequently than usual. For instance, if you would normally check your blood sugar every 5 hours during the day, double this to every 2.5 hours.

I – INSULIN – Adjust your insulin according to your blood sugars to keep within your target blood sugar level.

C – CARBOHYDRATE – If your blood sugar is low eat or drink more glucose or sugar/starch food items. If your blood sugar is high, drink plain water or more diet drinks.

K – KETONES – Use blood ketone stix or urine ketone stix to monitor your ketones if you are a type one diabetic every 4 hours or so. This is particularly important if you feel very ill, are nauseated, vomiting or have abdominal pain. If your ketones are high consider extra insulin, keep well hydrated and alert medical staff sooner rather than later.

Particularly for type twos:

It is important to keep well hydrated when you experience any illness but particularly an illness where you are febrile, or have  vomiting, limited oral intake, or severe diarrhea.

Some drugs can worsen your response to dehydrating illness and you may need to seek advice from a doctor, nurse or pharmacist about stopping certain drugs and when it is appropriate to restart them.

You can remember what they are with the mnemonic: SADMAN

SGLT2 inhibitors, ACE inhibitors, Diuretics, Metformin, ARBs, and Non- steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.