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July 15, 2008

Insulin, Other

Question from Cumming, Georgia, USA:

What is the normal range of insulin that the body produces? My four-year-old daughter was tested for diabetes. Her blood sugar came back at 84 mg/dl [4.7 mmol/L]. Her insulin came back at 3.2 after fasting, which the nurse practitioner said was normal, but seemed a little low to me.

Answer:

What you are asking really isn’t related to a “normal” glucose. When the glucose is low or normal, like the 84 mg/dl [4.7 mmol/L] you mentioned, the pancreas really doesn’t have to produce much insulin. At really low glucose levels, the insulin can be unmeasurable. So, the number in you child is likely very normal.

There are standards for stressed insulin production. These are used in research studies, like TrialNet. There we do oral and I.V. glucose tolerance tests to see how much insulin the pancreas can produce in response to either an oral or I.V. glucose challenge. We do this to look for the early signs of reduced islet cell function prior to the development of diabetes.

At this time, I don’t think you need to pursue this.

LD