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Smart insulin pumps for diabetic kids

Thursday April 12, 2012 10:18:25 AM, Priyanka Sharma, IANS

New Delhi: As many as a million children suffer from Type I diabetes in India and painful for them are those insulin jabs. But smart insulin pumps are now changing things for these kids.

"Type 1 diabetes (commonly known as juvenile diabetes) is the most common form of diabetes among children. According to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), in India, there are about 10 lakh children with Type I diabetes," Neeru Gera, consultant endocrinologist, Max Hospital, Saket here, told IANS.

"The first and foremost advantage of insulin pump therapy is that it could help children get relief from the daily pain of insulin shots," Gera added.

Diabetes is of different types. For instance, Type 2 is found in people who are above 40, while gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy. Usually diabetic patients have to take insulin injections before a meal.

But an insulin pump brings more flexibility.

Costing between Rs.99,000 and Rs.350,000, the insulin pump comes in the shape of a mechanical device, a little larger than a pager, which can be attached to a belt or a pocket.

It delivers fast-acting insulin into the body via an infusion set - a thin plastic tube ending in a small, flexible plastic cannula (tube) or a very thin needle.

One has to insert the cannula beneath the skin at the infusion site, usually in the abdomen or upper buttocks and insulin is delivered through this infusion set. A patient can keep the infusion set in the same place for two to three days (sometimes more). It can then be moved to a new location.

"With insulin pump therapy, the concept of multiple daily injections hardly exists. The patient only needs to change his or her infusion set a maximum of 12 times per month," Shalini Jaggi, consultant diabetologist, Sri Balaji Action Medical Institute here, told IANS.

When it comes to Type 1 diabetes, children in the age group of 10-14 years are at a higher risk of developing it. Those aged between five and nine years have middle risk and kids of 0-4 years have a lower risk of developing diabetes.

Those suffering from the condition have to follow a strict lifestyle. Parents have to constantly keep a check on the children's diet and exercise.

Insulin pumps have flexible choices, says Anju Virmani, consultant endocrinologist, Max Hospital.

"Pumps give you greater control over insulin delivery, thereby giving you more control over the onset of insulin action. That means you can determine what and when you want to eat, when and for how long you play sports, and even whether or not to skip a snack or meal. In short, you control the insulin. It doesn't control you," Virmani said.

But there are certain precautions that need to be taken.

"An insulin pump is a mechanical device. Any malfunction of the device can have an adverse effect on the patient," said Jaggi.

"Besides, insulin pump therapy uses only faster-acting insulin. Therefore, any interruption in insulin delivery (due to infusion set clogs, leaks, loss of insulin potency, or pump malfunction) may result in hyperglycemia (high blood glucose) within two to four hours. Always carry an emergency kit to supply insulin in case you develop a problem with your pump."

(Priyanka Sharma can be contacted at








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