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May 13, 2006

Insulin Pumps, Research: Monitoring

Question from Greendale, Wisconsin, USA:

My five year old son has had type 1 for over a year. He now has approval to start on an insulin pump in July. I have looked into the options, but my concern is choosing a pump with the new technologies becoming available. I desperately want to use a continuous glucose monitor for him due to hypoglycemia unawareness. When do you predict that more glucose monitors will become available and FDA approved for children? How do you choose a pump when technology is changing so quickly?

Answer:

At present (May 2006), there is no insulin pump that can be controlled by a continuous glucose sensor, so choose a pump today based on the features that best fit your needs. Based on my participation in many Diabetes Technology Meetings over the past several years, I believe that a closed loop sensor and insulin pump system is many years away.

Your choice today is whether to consider the one product that combines the display of the sensor on the pump (the Medtronic MiniMed Paradigm� REAL-Time Insulin Pump and Continuous Glucose Monitoring System) or to select a pump and sensor from different companies. When making this choice, you should consider whether both the pump and the sensor meet your needs (or in this case, the needs of your child). And, be sure to ask the company about the amount of testing conducted in young children because their responses to the sensor may be quite different from responses from adults, since these devices are so new. (Even though a device might not be formally FDA approved for kids, once available, it can be prescribed for anyone.)

There are other continuous sensors currently under study, including the Navigator by Abbott Diabetes Care which has been extensively tested in children, and there are new pumps also under development.

JSH