Youngsters with type 1 diabetes who use insulin pumps had better blood sugar control than children who injected insulin, a new study reveals.
Insulin pump users also experienced fewer rates of severe hypoglycemia and diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).
Scientists at the University of Metabolic Research Laboratories examined data on 14,460 patients with type 1 diabetes who used insulin pumps and 16,460 who injected insulin. All the participants were aged under 20 years old and had been diagnosed for at least one year.
Previous research has shown insulin pumps to be effective in improving blood sugar control, but the ability to lower rates of severe hypoglycemia has yielded mixed results.
The findings showed that at a yearly rate 9.55 children per 100 children experienced severe hypoglycemia with insulin pumps, compared with almost 14 per 100 children treated with injections.
Rates of DKA were lower in the pump group too, with 3.64 patients per 100 treated for the complication each year compared to 4.26 kids on injections.
HbA1c levels were also slightly lower in the pump group, as were total daily insulin doses.
“These findings provide evidence for improved clinical outcomes associated with insulin pump therapy compared with injection therapy in children, adolescents, and young adults with type 1 diabetes,” said the researchers.
While the study wasn’t a controlled experiment to prove that insulin pumps are more effective than injections, the study team opine that insulin pumps should be more widely available for children who experience hypoglycemia on insulin therapy.
“For adolescents, particularly those who find it difficult to do all the complicated things in managing diabetes, pumps may not be the best option, particularly if insulin is missed,” said Dr. Simon Heller, University of Sheffield, who wasn’t involved in the study.
The researchers added, however, that the best option may depend on a child’s age. They also speculate that better results from children using pumps are due to better patient education compared to those who inject insulin.
The findings appear online in JAMA.

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