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September 11, 2001

Complications, Hypoglycemia

Question from the Republic of Panama:

Within a short time, two different families have told about the death of their type 1, early-teen sons, apparently from the "Dead in Bed" syndrome. Before these two cases, I had never heard of this syndrome, and to tell the truth, it has me scared, as I have a 7 year old son with type 1 and can't even begin to imagine how I'd ever deal with something like that. How frequently does this syndrome occur in people with type 1 diabetes? Is it more common for males or females? Does it occur more often with a certain age group? Would wearing a hypoglycemia sensor at night reduce the risk of this event? If there is anything at all that I can do to help reduce the risk of this syndrome in my child, please let me know.

Answer:

Hypoglycemia that causes sudden death is not a new experience, unfortunately, but it has been discussed with some research articles in the past few years. The hypoglycemia sensor watches are not very accurate, are very expensive and often very irritating to the skin. So, while they have the potential to be good hypoglycemia alarms in the future, we are not quite there yet.

The best way to prevent severe episodes of hypoglycemia is to have a meal plan, use carb counting, frequent blood glucose monitoring, and periodic overnight monitoring as well. You should discuss this very specifically with your diabetes health care team so that they can assess the risk for your child and give you more specific advice.

SB

[Editor’s comment: See The Dead in Bed Syndrome .

SS]