Determining Whether an Insulin Pump Is Right for Your Child

Insulin pumps deliver insulin much like the body does, helping people with type 1 diabetes improve blood glucose control and avoid both hypoglycemic episodes and diabetic ketoacidosis.

Getting an insulin pump for your child may prove to be a wise choice, but there is plenty to consider before making that decision. You need to understand the basics of pump operation and how much of that operation is expected of the child’s caregivers.

Pump Basics

Insulin pumps, which are about the size of a pager, are attached to the body by a needle inserted beneath the skin. They can remain in one place for two or three days before needing to be moved and reinserted.

A pump delivers insulin two ways. It provides basal insulin, or short-acting (rapid) insulin continuously delivered through the needle, and they are programmed to give bolus doses (additional insulin) at meal and snack times. Older kids, or the parents of younger children, must test the child’s blood sugar level four to eight times each day to determine the pump’s efficiency, adjust mealtime boluses, and correct for high glucose readings.

It is easy to see why young children cannot manage pumps on their own, and that older children will need parental help. This means a knowledgeable caregiver must be available seven days a week, 24 hours each day to assist with blood sugar monitoring, to determine mealtime insulin doses, adjust the pump’s settings, and deal with any arising problems.

Things to Consider

Asking yourself and other family members the following questions can help you become clear about the suitability of an insulin pump for your child.

Is your child:

  • willing to wear a pump, or willing to try?
  • willing and able to tolerate the pump’s needle-insertion?

As the parent or other main caregiver, do you:

  • have a good understanding of basal-bolus insulin therapy?
  • know how to count carbohydrate or use a different insulin-to-food ratio?
  • know how to correct for blood sugar highs or lows?
  • know how to modify insulin doses for changes owed to exercise, travel, sick days, or other special events?
  • know how to monitor for ketones and what to do if they are present?
  • feel confident you can operate an insulin pump?
  • have the time to manage your child’s diabetes every day?
  • have working relationships with school personnel and other caregivers who are capable and willing to help with the pump?

Does your child's diabetes care team:

  • include a physician, diabetes nurse educator, registered dietitian, a mental health counselor, and other health professionals?
  • have experience with young patients using pumps?
  • provide 24 hour phone contact for users of insulin pumps?

Consult Your Doctor

If after reading about pumps and considering the questions you are still interested in acquiring a pump for your child, it is time to talk to your health care team. They will help you clarify the advantages and disadvantages of a pump for your family’s situation, and maybe provide a pump that the child can wear a few days to see what it is like.

Source: Diabetes Spectrum
Photo credit: U.S. Dept. of Education

Get a Free Diabetes Meal Plan

Get a free 7-Day Diabetes Meal Plan from Constance Brown-Riggs who is a Registered Dietitian-Certified Diabetes Educator and who is also a national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

Just enter in your email below to download your free Diabetes Meal Plan.

By clicking Submit, you agree to send your info to InformationAboutDiabetes.com who may contact you with updates and information and we agree to use it according to our privacy policy.

More Articles

Limiting our intake of highly processed foods, and eating more whole and lightly processed fare can boost our nutrient and fiber intake, lower...

Chamomile tea has long been prized for its calming properties, but few people realize it’s also beneficial for glucose regulation. Traditionally,...

Today, the healing benefits of essential oils are more than the claims of ancient tradition and alternative medicine. They are increasingly the...

The different sugar content of fruits can be confusing when you are trying to manage your...

There is nothing close to a one-size-fits-all exercise program for those with diabetic peripheral neuropathy. The best general advice is to...

More Articles

Chamomile tea has long been prized for its calming properties, but few people realize it’s also beneficial for glucose regulation. Traditionally,...

There is nothing close to a one-size-fits-all exercise program for those with diabetic peripheral neuropathy. The best general advice is to...

”Metabolic memory” (less commonly known as ”hyperglycemic memory” or “legacy effect”) refers to the lingering effects of a long period of either...

Limiting our intake of highly processed foods, and eating more whole and lightly processed fare can boost our nutrient and fiber intake, lower...

With such a marked increase in the number of new diabetes cases, more people are wondering if type 1 diabetes...

Do not let pictures of yoga experts with their bodies twisted into bizarre, compact shapes fool you. Even people with stiff muscles, creaky joints...

The American Diabetes Association estimates that more than 7 million people in the United States have diabetes but don’t know it yet. These people...

While some celebrities aren't quick to talk about living with diabetes, others are quite transparent and inspiring - acting as advocates for the...

People with diabetes are about twice as likely to experience heart disease as those without the condition, making cardiovascular health a critical...

Pilates is an exercise method proven to improve flexibility, strength, coordination, muscular stamina, balance, and posture. Many Pilates...

All diabetics know that maintaining proper blood sugar levels is the lifeline...

It can be difficult enough to get on stage and make a roomful of strangers laugh, but for comedians suffering from type 1 or type 2 diabetes,...

Most people with insulin-dependent diabetes use syringes and lancets every day. However, many of them do not know how to dispose of these...

Explaining diabetes to children can seem like a daunting task, but in reality, it is no more difficult than discussing anything else important....

Diabetes is a complex disease, affecting virtually every part of the body. The damage it does, to nerve endings, blood vessels, organs, and the...