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Kids With Type 1 Diabetes: Insulin Pumps Better?

Over a median of 3.5 years, the devices worked better at controlling blood sugar, researchers say
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Two U.S. diabetes experts weren't surprised by the findings.

"The current standard of insulin treatment in type 1 diabetes is multiple daily insulin-injection therapy," said Dr. Patricia Vuguin, a pediatric endocrinologist at Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York in New Hyde Park, N.Y.

"[However], in the 1970s, continuous subcutaneous insulin infusion -- also know as pump therapy -- was introduced," she said. "Pump therapy has been gaining popularity, perhaps because of technical advances resulting in improved patient comfort and improved lifestyle."

Vuguin said the study succeeded in "confirming that insulin-pump therapy improved and sustained glucose control in type 1 diabetic subjects for at least seven years."

Virginia Peragallo-Dittko is executive director of the Diabetes and Obesity Institute at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y. She said that "when treating insulin-deficient type 1 diabetes, there is more than one way to provide insulin that mimics what the pancreas usually provides."

"Compared to multiple injections, the insulin pump allows for more flexible insulin dosing when insulin needs decrease during exercise or increase during illness, and it also allows for more flexible meal-time dosing," Peragallo-Dittko said.

What has been missing, however, is a study that tracked children's outcomes with insulin pump use over the long haul, she said.

"The demands of diabetes self-management continue 24/7, and it is especially hard for children, teenagers and their families to manage these demands during growth spurts and puberty," Peragallo-Dittko said. "So what is important about this study is that the improvement in [blood sugar control] lasted over time in a real-life setting and that those who use insulin pumps may have an edge."

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