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August 25, 1999

Research: Monitoring

Question from :

A friend told me they had seen on a TV news article about a monitor that could tell if a diabetic had low blood sugar. They explained that when the blood sugar went down your body temperature went down also. In the news article, a small girl wears the monitor and when the teacher would notice the monitor is low, they would get the girl a snack.

Answer:

At the present time the only reliable blood glucose monitor is the GlucoWatch. This instrument is in the final stages of clinical trials and it is hoped that FDA approval will be obtained later in the summer and that the instrument will be available commercially by the beginning of year 2000. There is both a high and low settable alarm. At the moment the instrument is perhaps a little cumbersome for a small girl, being about twice the size of a large men’s wristwatch; but there are plans to bring out a smaller version. The instrument can be worn on the leg as well as the forearm. There is one potential disadvantage in the GlucoWatch in that blood sugars and alarms only read out every 20 minutes so there is a potential for a short delay in recognising low blood sugars. This can be circumvented by taking the usual preventative measures and by setting the alarm a little higher. MiniMed is also developing a similar monitor which reads more frequently; but which requires an indwelling needle sensor.

There have been trials of other hypoglycemia detectors; but they had too many false alarms to be reliable.

DOB