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Regular exercise OK for kids with type 1 diabetes

Written by: Staff

NEW YORK, June 7 (Reuters) Regular physical activity does not appear to put diabetic children at risk of dangerous blood-sugar lows, and may instead aid their long-term blood-sugar control, new research shows.

The researchers, led by Dr. Antje Herbst of the University of Bonn, report the findings in the Archives of Pediatrics&Adolescent Medicine.

Because regular exercise boosts fitness and lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels, it could help cut the risk of long-term complications from type 1 diabetes -- including heart disease, stroke and kidney failure.

However, exercise also causes an immediate dip in blood sugar, possibly raising a diabetic child's risk of excessively low blood-sugar levels, which can lead to seizures or loss of consciousness.

The current study included 19,143 type 1 diabetics, ages 3 to 20, seen at clinics in Germany and Austria. On average, patients who said they exercised at least three times per week for 30 minutes at a time had slightly lower hemoglobin A1c levels -- a measure of long-term blood-sugar control -- than their inactive peers.

Girls who exercised that often also tended to weigh less than sedentary girls, the study found.

There was no evidence, according to Herbst's team, that frequent exercisers suffered more episodes of severe blood-sugar lows, suggesting that young people with type 1 diabetes can and should be active.

''Regular physical activity should be recommended in patients with (type 1 diabetes),'' the researchers conclude.

If drops in blood sugar are a problem, they point out, patients can be helped to devise a strategy to prevent the problem; this might include trimming their insulin dose before exercising, or eating extra carbohydrates.


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