Metformin is safe and effective for the treatment of type 2 diabetes in children, according to new research.
Metformin has been the most popular oral medication for adults with type 2 diabetes. In light of a dramatic increase in the incidence of type 2 diabetes among children over the past 10 years, researchers at the University of California San Diego Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, tested the drug in a pediatric population.
In the randomized, controlled trial, metformin was tested at doses up to 1,000 mg twice daily in 82 children aged 10 to 16 years for up to 16 weeks. The children with type 2 diabetes who were enrolled in the study had fasting plasma glucose levels between 126 and 240 mg/dl and A1Cs greater than 7%. Each participant also had a body mass index greater than the 50th percentile for his or her age.
According to results published in the January 2002 issue of Diabetes Care, metformin significantly improved blood-glucose control in these children with type 2 diabetes. Researchers report that fasting plasma glucose decreased 42.9 mg/dl for children taking metformin, compared with an increase of 21.4 mg/dl for the placebo group. A1C values were also lower for those taking metformin: the average A1C in the metformin group was 7.5%, compared to 8.6% in the placebo group.
Negative side effects were similar to those experienced by adults treated with metformin. The most commonly reported were abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea/vomiting and headache. No cases of clinical hypoglycemia, lactic acidosis or clinically significant changes in physical examinations occurred during the study.