Faculty research has shown that a rare and potentially lethal disease affecting new-born babies may be treatable with fish oils. The disease, known as congenital hyperinsulinism, is a rare disorder which affects roughly 1 in 50,000 children in the UK. A danger to babies whose bodies make too much insulin, it can starve their brain of blood sugar, leading to possible brain damage or long-term disability. Giving these infants purified fish oils similar to those used to treat heart attack patients can improve their blood sugar levels, which could prevent the worst effects of the disease. Faculty researcher Dr Karen Cosgrove says:
Although we didn’t see enormous changes in our patients during the research, the effects were small but positive. It is important for all babies with congenital hyperinsulinism because it is a condition which is so difficult to treat.
The research was conducted alongside consultants from Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. The hospital is the base for The Northern Congenital Hyperinsulinism Service (NorCHI), a highly specialised facility set up to treat this rare disease. Doctor Indi Banerjee, clinical lead for NORCHI, says:
The current medical treatment for children with congenital hyperinsulinism has been quite limited. The addition of this fish oil supplement may be a simple but effective way of treating low blood sugars in many children with this difficult condition.