For parents of children with type 1 diabetes, easier days may be ahead.
A hybrid closed-loop insulin delivery system, the Medtronic MiniMed 670G, has just received FDA approval for children as young as seven. It had previously only been approved for those 14 years and older.
The 670G is called a hybrid closed loop because is automatically takes glucose measurements every five minutes and adjusts and delivers basal insulin automatically. Users will still have to manually program bolus insulin, but the pump will increase basal insulin if a bolus is missed. The adjustment can mitigate the rise in blood sugar from a missed bolus but not completely make up for it. Future systems may be able to do both basal and bolus insulin. The pump will adjust basal insulin and alert the user if it senses hypoglycemia.
The 670G is especially useful overnight, when it kept blood sugar levels within range about 80 percent of the time in trials. For parents, a system that would keep watch over their child’s blood sugar overnight could make a big difference in their peace of mind.
Trials also showed that the 670G was able to reduce A1C by 0.4 percent, improve time in target blood sugar range by two hours a day, and reduce hypoglycemia by 24 minutes a day. This could improve daily life and reduce the long-term damage of high blood sugar.
The 670G does require calibration fingersticks, two to four per day, and does not currently have remote monitoring capabilities—numbers are shown only on the device itself. Still, the device has been a life-changing for teen football player Colton Smith, who was shocked when he was diagnosed with diabetes at 14. Before he got his 670G, he was taking up to six shots of insulin every day. With the pump, Colton, and his mom, are living much more stress-free.
The pump’s algorithm adapts over time and can adjust to Colton’s blood sugar patterns. “I don’t find myself worrying about it [blood sugar] and I get to enjoy life a lot better,” Colton said.
Insurance usually covers an insulin pump for those with type 1 once every four years. The total cost of the device is about $8,000; those with insurance may need to pay $1,000 out-of-pocket. Medtronic offers a payment program to spread out the cost of the pump, and financial assistance is available for those with certain conditions.
Katie Taylor started writing in 5th grade and hasn't stopped since. Her favorite place to pen a phrase is in front of her fireplace with a cup of tea, but she's been known to write in parking lots on the backs of old receipts if necessary. She and her husband live cozily in the Pacific Northwest enjoying rainy days and Netflix.