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November 7, 2000

Insulin Pumps, Social Issues: Insurance/Costs

Question from Deming, Washington, USA:

My 20 month old son was diagnosed with type�1 diabetes at 11 months of age. Currently, he is on five to seven shots a day (Humalog to match his food intake during the day, and NPH to provide some basal at night). We check his blood sugars anywhere from six to ten times a day. My husband also has type 1, and he is currently using an insulin pump with great success. Thus, we have been trying to get the pump for our son. We have had complete support from his doctors, but the insurance company has denied the pump four times, based on the fact that they do not give pumps to children under 13 years of age. We are aware that pump therapy is not a standard of treatment for a toddler, yet in our research, talking with parents with young children on the pump, and speaking with doctors we have learned that this is changing, and toddlers are doing very well on pump therapy. We are looking to provide the best and safest care for our son, while best simulating the life of a toddler! I would like to hear your opinions on toddlers and pump therapy. Please include my e-mail address for responses from others. [email protected]

Answer:

Your best bet is to work closely with your diabetes team on the issue of pumps and toddlers with diabetes. They can advocate for you and write the appropriate letters. Our experience suggests that toddlers can use the insulin pump quite nicely with appropriate training, interest, and motivation of parents. Since your family is doing so much intensified treatment already and you already have a husband using an insulin pump successfully, I think you should continue to fight arbitrary insurance company rulings that do not make sense for you and our child.

SB