We live in a time of technological transformation and the dawn of artificial intelligence. And diabetes-related technology is also moving ahead at lightning speed. The pace of change can be challenging and overwhelming for parents with a child who has diabetes. They already have to juggle work, family, and the day-to-day adventures of a child with diabetes—now they also have to keep current on the latest developments.
These parents ask themselves, “Is this the best insulin pump for my child?”, or “Is this continuous glucose monitor (CGM) the most accurate?” Every year diabetes companies and websites discuss the latest and greatest technologies to help you to make an informed choice. Diabetes Health has charts where you can compare insulin pumps, blood glucose meters, continuous glucose monitors, and many other diabetes-related items. The 2019 charts can be found at https://www.diabeteshealth.com/charts/.
An insulin pump provides continuous delivery of short-acting insulin 24 hours a day. Insulin pumps are small, computerized devices that imitate the pancreas by delivering small continuous doses of short-acting insulin, also known as the basal rate. The device also is used to deliver variable amounts of insulin when food is eaten, also known as a bolus.
When it comes to insulin pumps, you can check out the individual company’s websites, such as:
- Tandem Diabetes Care at https://www.tandemdiabetes.com/
- Insulet at https://www.myomnipod.com/home
- Medtronic at http://www.medtronicdiabetes.com/home.
If you’re looking for a comparison chart this one from Diabetes Health is a great resource. Choosing an insulin pump can seem confusing, but it doesn’t have to be an overwhelming process. Make a list of what you are looking for in a pump: tubing versus no tubing, CGM integration, closed-loop system, how much insulin can each cartridge hold, maximum basal rate, bolus increments and bolus types, just to name a few.
Continuous glucose monitors (CGM) were first approved by the FDA in 1999. A CGM is a small wearable device that tracks your glucose throughout the day and night. The CGM consists of three parts:
- The wireless display device, also called the receiver, has a screen where you can see the current blood glucose reading, glucose readings over last 24 hours, and track how quickly those levels are rising or falling.
- The second piece is the transmitter, which is a small device that fits onto the sensor. It sends the blood glucose information to the display device.
- The third part is the sensor, which is inserted under the skin. The CGM automatically checks your blood sugar every 5 minutes and displays your glucose reading on a screen.
There are many different CGMs to choose from. Dexcom’s G5 and G6, Abbott’s Freestyle Libre, Medtronic’s Guardian Connect, and Eversense from Senseonics all offer the option to transmit glucose readings to a smartphone. The application on your smartphone also allows your child to share his/her blood glucose readings to your smartphone.
This way both the user and parent receive notifications of highs and lows, which can be a comfort to parents when they’re away from their child. These apps have improved in quality and have swept through the diabetes market over the past few years. They’ve gone from an expensive novelty to a must-have treatment tool.
Knowledge is power when it comes to managing diabetes, and the more you educate yourself the better your child—and you—will be. The treatment for diabetes has grown by leaps and bounds and the technology has grown along with it. Keep up to date by checking out the resource page.