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Insulin pumps and children

Over the past two decades, insulin pumps have become widely adopted for use in children, including toddlers and infants. In the US, nearly half of all kids with type 1 diabetes use a pump to deliver insulin.1  

Is an insulin pump right for your family? Here are a few things to consider:

  • Better blood sugar control—Insulin pump therapy has been shown to help improve A1C levels, the long-term measure of blood glucose control, compared to injections. In addition to helping them feel better day to day, this control can help prevent the long-term health problems associated with diabetes.2
  • Greater peace of mind—Research shows that pump users are less likely to experience severe hypoglycemia, or extreme highs that led to diabetic ketoacidosis.2
  • Infusion set changes instead of injections—The pump requires a fine needle, or cannula, to be inserted under the skin and changed every 2 or 3 days, compared to 4 or more injections each day. Today's cannulas are very thin and some are made of flexible material, so they're comfortable for even the slimmest users.
  • Precise insulin dosing—An insulin pump can provide very low levels of background insulin throughout the day, as well as mealtime insulin in very small increments.2
  • Greater flexibility with eating, sleeping and sports—One of the key reasons families choose insulin pump therapy is the way the pump can adapt to what your child eats, their changing activity levels and how their natural blood glucose levels rise and fall throughout the day and night.3 This can be a real help for those days when kids just won't eat, they want to have a treat at a birthday party or they just can't sit still.

This flexibility comes from the 2 ways a pump delivers insulin:

  • Basal insulin—Small doses of fast-acting insulin are given around the clock to help keep blood glucose levels in the recommended range between meals and overnight. The basal rate can be shifted up or down as needs change, such as when a child is particularly active.
  • Bolus insulin—Additional doses of insulin are given at mealtimes, based on your child's current blood sugar level and how much they actually eat. You can also use a bolus dose to help bring high blood glucose in range.  

Using an insulin pump still requires frequent blood glucose monitoring, managing food and activity, and careful recordkeeping, but it can be a great option for many families.

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1Sherr JL, Hermann JM, Campbell F, et. al. Use of insulin pump therapy in children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes and its impact on metabolic control: comparison of results from three large, transatlantic paediatric registries. Diabetologia. 2016;59(1):87-91. Available at: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00125-015-3790-6. Accessed April 5, 2016.

2Johnson RJ, Cooper MN, Jones TW, Davis EA. Long-term outcome of insulin pump therapy in children with type 1 diabetes assessed in a large population-based case—control study. Diabetologia. 2013;56:2392-2400. Available at: http://www.diabetologia-journal.org/files/Johnson.pdf. Accessed April 5, 2016.

3Phillip M, Battelino T, Rodriguez H, Danne T, Kaufman F. Use of insulin pump therapy in the pediatric age-group. Diabetes Care. 2007;30(6):549-554. Available at: http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/30/6/1653.full. Accessed April 5, 2016.

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