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Diabetic children learning to use pumps

Children with Type 1 diabetes in Cork can now attend the first dedicated “pump school” in Ireland to learn how to use an insulin…

Children with Type 1 diabetes in Cork can now attend the first dedicated “pump school” in Ireland to learn how to use an insulin pump.

Children who normally receive insulin injections, up to five times daily, may be suitable for the new insulin pump therapy which is now considered the gold standard for children with Type 1 diabetes. This is the first time insulin pump therapy has been offered outside Dublin.

The pump is a computerised device about the size of a small mobile phone which continually infuses insulin under the skin and optimises the blood glucose control.

The children, their parents, teachers and special needs assistants and other carers are trained over a day and a half to use and manage the pump by a team from Cork University Hospital (CUH).

This new service, which is being rolled out under the HSE’s National Diabetes Clinical Programme, is being made available to children with Type 1 diabetes in Cork and Kerry who are suitable. Children under five years of age are being prioritised.

Dr Stephen O’Riordan, consultant paediatric endocrinologist at CUH and national clinical lead for the insulin pump programme in the under fives, said: “Insulin pump therapy has evolved considerably in recent years and is now considered the gold standard for children with Type 1 diabetes. Pump therapy improves blood glucose control and quality of life and reduces the long-term complications associated with diabetes such as: blindness, coronary heart disease and kidney failure.”

He said there was a significant practical benefit of pumps over injections for children and their families, for example, a reduction from five insulin injections per day to one infusion set change every two to three days.

However, he cautioned that pump therapy was not for all and careful patient selection is at the core of successful insulin pump service.

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