Caring for a Diabetic Child

Caring for a Diabetic Child

Insulin Pumps Can Make Caring for Diabetic Children Easier

Using the electronic therapy of an insulin pump can make caring for your diabetic child a whole lot easier. Technology is helpful in diabetes, but it is not just in the monitoring and delivery systems. It is even in the medication itself. Except for rare specialized use, pork and beef sources are no longer used to produce the injectable lifesaving hormone. Instead, bacteria is genetically engineered using recombinant DNA technology to produce human equivalent insulin analogs. They are fast acting with a short duration of activity. They are great for multiple daily injection regimens when used along with a longer acting form as well. However, it is in electronic therapy where they really shine.

Juvenile Diabetes

Most children are diagnosed as Type 1 diabetics. The islet of Langerhans cells in the pancreas are attacked by their own immune systems, causing production of insulin to greatly diminish or cease. Since the hormone is destroyed in the digestive system, they have to inject it to live. Some very young children are also being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes due to sedentary lifestyles and obesity. Some need to begin multiple daily injections or electronic therapy to adequately control blood glucose levels.

Infusion Devices

The self-contained electronic device infuses the hormone into the body through an infusion set. This is a thin piece of flexible tubing that connects to a tiny silicone cannula, which is inserted just under the skin. It is changed every two to four days. The cannula is placed using a needle and a spring-loaded injector. It is usually not painful to insert an infusion set at all.

The needle is withdrawn, and the set is held in place with adhesive. Users often refer to the setup as it being their “electronic pancreas” because it infuses medication around the clock (basal rate). Then, when food is eaten or an elevated blood glucose level needs to be brought down, a programmed “bolus” is given by pressing a couple of buttons.

Continuous Glucose Monitoring

Caregivers of diabetic children gain great peace of mind through the use of pump therapy because of the device’s ability to work with a continuous glucose monitoring system. Like the infusion sets, a small glucose sensor is injected under the skin. It is changed every few days. A tiny transmitter connects to the sensor. The entire thing is waterproof. Depending on the model, it can communicate directly with the pump. It can even suspend the flow of medication if the blood glucose levels drop too low.

Other models can immediately notify parents (up to five individuals) through their smartphones of a low or high blood glucose reading. The authorized users can check on the child’s glucose status at any time. Alerts can warn of predicted lows or highs based on the current reading and the rate of fall or rise of the glucose level.

Caregivers of children with diabetes should discuss electronic therapy that includes continuous glucose monitoring and all of its benefits with a knowledgeable healthcare expert. That may or may not be the family doctor. Usually, a diabetes educator is the most informed and up to date when it comes to electronic therapies in juvenile diabetes.

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