Insulin Pumps Fine for Preschoolers

Parents Pumped: Kids' Blood Sugar Levels Controlled

From the WebMD Archives

May 3, 2004 - Preschoolers can safely use insulin pumps to control diabetes, a new study shows.

The findings are being presented this week at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting in San Francisco.

Insulin pumps, which have been available for two decades, have been shown to safely replace multiple daily insulin shots -- keeping blood sugar levels under control. The pumps are pager-sized devices worn next to the skin, and they deliver a programmable, continuous flow of insulin. They are worn both day and night.

Research shows the insulin pump works well for school-age children. But what about preschool kids?

In this pilot study, researchers enrolled 16 children -- all about 4 years old, all diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Half got the insulin pumps, and half got their usual insulin shots for the six-month study.

During the entire study, blood sugar levels were stable in both groups of children, reports lead researcher Lisa Opipari-Arrigan, PhD, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor.

The two treatments did not differ in safety or effectiveness, says Opipari-Arrigan.

But the effect on parents was dramatic: "Pump parents" reported less worry and emotional distress than the other parents.

Researchers report only one side effect: Children wearing pumps gained weight, whereas the other kids did not.

At the study's end, all kids in the pump group -- and one-half of the insulin shot group - decided to use pumps. This "suggests overall parental satisfaction with pump therapy," writes Opipari-Arrigan.

The pumps "may significantly reduce diabetes-related stress in families with preschool children," she writes.

SOURCE: Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting, San Francisco, May 1-4, 2004.