Insulin Pump Beats Injections for Children with Type 1

A comprehensive new study out of Australia shows that children with Type 1 diabetes have better medical outcomes if they receive insulin by pump instead of by injections. While past studies have provided evidence that shows the pump has some advantages in controlling blood sugar levels in children, this is the largest study that provides data to back that claim.

The study, published this August in the journal Diabetologia, found that children between the ages of 2 and 19 experienced 0.6% lower blood sugar levels over a 7-year period. Researchers at the Princess Margaret Hospital for Children in Perth also found that children using pumps also had reduced bouts of severe hypoglycemia. Within a year of pump adoption, the number of incidents of severe hypoglycemia dropped from 14.7 bouts to 7.2 bouts per 100 patients per year. On the flip side, severe hypoglycemia rates for children using injectable insulin rose during the course of the study from 6.8 bouts to 10.2 bouts per 100 patients annually. The rate of hospitalization for diabetic ketoacidosis, a frequent complication for children with Type 1 diabetes, also was lower among pump-users.

Such benefits are nothing new to either diabetes researchers or families who have a loved one using the pump, but the size and scope of the study are what’s important with the data generated. Many previous studies had been criticized for taking a look at too few children and/or following those children for too short a time. The study tracked 345 children utilizing the pump and a similar number taking insulin by injection for 7 years.

The pump has grown in popularity as a tool for delivering insulin in children, but injectable insulin remains the dominant form of insulin therapy among children with Type 1 diabetes. Some parents and doctors fear the pump is too cumbersome and draws too much attention to a child with Type 1 diabetes, while others prefer the pump because they believe it offers better control of blood sugar levels.

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Craig Idlebrook is a past editor for Insulin Nation, Type 2 Nation, and Información Sobre Diabetes. He is now the community engagement and content manager for T1D Exchange.

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