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July 31, 2002

Blood Tests and Insulin Injections

Question from Athens, Greece:

My five year old son, diagnosed with type 1 diabetes two years ago, is not cooperative with blood tests. Is necessary to do multiple finger sticks (four times/day)? We need to know about the non-invasive glucose monitors. Are they available outside the US? Do they work?


My first suggestion would be to see if you can obtain a FreeStyle meter, which uses a very very small blood sample taken from the forearm and which is, to all intents and purposes, painless. The One Touch� Ultra meter is a similar device, and it is possible that this firm has wider representation in Europe. Four blood samples a day is quite reasonable (i.e., before meals and at bedtime) with once or twice a week substituting a two hour post meal reading for the before meal one.

The GlucoWatch noninvasive meter is now available in Britain as well as in the U.S. However, at the moment, it is a rather cumbersome device to use with a need for a three hour equilibration period to begin with. A new improved version will be available later this year, but it is still an expensive unit and one which is likely to be best suited to special situations such as nocturnal hypoglycemia, during intercurrent illness etc. The infrared meters promise to be simpler to use, but they are not yet commercially available.

Finally, I would wonder if this little boy has what is called ‘needle phobia’ which can often be quite quickly resolved by a diabetes nurse educator, medial social worker, or a clinical psychologist who is familiar with the problem in this age group.