Everything you need to know about insulin pumps and children

11/2/2018 by Alicia Downs
Childrens chalk drawing

As pump therapy becomes more common for people with type 1 diabetes, more are starting on pumps earlier and earlier, including kids. But many parents struggle with making a decision about what's best for their kids.

A recent German study of over 30,000 participants under the age of 20 found that patients using pump therapy are less likely to have bad lows (4.42% less likely). This makes sense – pump therapy is often recommended for patients with a history of lows. But the study also showed a slight decrease in episodes of Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA), which is interesting. This may be because children on injection therapy often end up with longer high blood sugars because their caregivers can't precisely deliver correction doses large enough to correct, but small enough to avoid going too low.  When a child's insulin sensitivity is so high that they can drop more than 200 mg/dl ( 11.0 mmol/ml) with a single unit, correcting for any blood sugar under 300 becomes risky with a syringe. This is one MAJOR benefit of pump therapy for kids. Today’s pumps allow dosing to the 0.025 units of insulin. For children using an insulin pump, average A1Cs were 0.2 lower and total daily insulin dose was also lower on average. Slow infusion speed and microdosing capabilities are ideally suited to a child's anatomy and physiology. This allows insulin to be more effective at smaller doses, and to more closely match the insulin needs of both diet and activity levels of childhood. Children's bodies are also constantly growing and changing, making the flexibility and quick changes of pump settings a great match.
With this in mind, you'd think pump therapy would be an obvious choice. But diabetes management is never quite that simple. Some children don't tolerate a pump well. They feel it's obtrusive or gets in the way of their activities. Pumps also take a level of education and management that may not be right for every family. There is also the question of selecting the right pump and accompanying technologies that fits best. And there may be financial considerations involved, depending on insurance coverage and policy requirements. At mySugr, our coaches are well versed on making the most of pump technology and have lots of experience working with people of all ages from infants to adults. Working with a mySugr coach can help you find the right therapy for your kiddo, and use it to its greatest potential.

Alicia Downs

As mySugr’s very own certified diabetes educator (CDE), Alicia’s diverse nursing career has given her experience with a broad range of clients and a variety of health conditions in addition to diabetes. She’s a fierce advocate for the needs of her patients, whether it be in overcoming insurance restrictions, obtaining community resources, or coordinating with school systems and medical providers.

When not helping others, she can be found acting on stage, singing with local bands and creating award-winning steampunk and cosplay designs for herself and her family.