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October 10, 2004

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Question from Ashburn, Virginia, USA:

Our family is considering a two year assignment to London, England beginning possibly next summer. Our daughter is five years old and has had type 1 diabetes for about one and a half years. She is currently using Lantus/NovoLog with multiple daily injections. Can you tell me what the "standard of diabetes care" is in the UK? We have thought about switching to an insulin pump over the next few years. Should we consider doing that before we go overseas or would it be better to wait until after we return? Are doctors in the UK in favor of small children using insulin pumps? I know blood sugar levels are measured differently in Europe. Should we expect to use their scale or stick with the U.S. scale? Are carbohydrates counted differently in the UK? Can you recommend any useful web sites to read about living with diabetes in the UK?

Answer:

The standard of care for type 1 diabetes in the UK is generally very good and in London there are many good medical centers.

Pumps are not widely used in the UK for many reasons, although some centers are gaining more experience. I would not switch to a pump before coming to the UK unless you can identify in advance a center that will support you.

Diabetes UK is a web site with helpful information.

KJR

[Editor’s comment: If you will be visiting a diabetes center in the UK, you may need to keep track of your daughter’s blood sugars in millimoles (mmol/L). You could ask when you contact a center you plan to visit. You should be able to find instructions on how to convert your meter in its instruction manual. The conversion is 18.1 mg/dl to 1 mmol/L, which would allow you to do the math on your own should you prefer to measure in mg/dl. So, 180 mg/dl is 10 mmol/L.

BH]