Keep a Close Eye on Kids' Blood Sugar

Type 1 diabetes patients may have worse blood sugar control when blood sugar is checked infrequently

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Becoming a teenager is a time full of change. It can be especially difficult if you have type 1 diabetes. But even with all the changes, there is one thing that should stay the same: keeping a close eye on blood sugar.

Type 1 diabetes patients who are about to enter their teens are likely to have higher blood sugar levels if they do not check their blood sugar often.

"Carefully watch your blood sugar if you have diabetes."

In a recent study, Dennis Drotar, PhD, of the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, and colleagues wanted to gain a better understanding of the relationship between treatment adherence (how well a patient sticks to their treatment) and blood sugar control in young people with type 1 diabetes.

Blood sugar control is central to diabetes management. If your blood sugar levels get too high (hyperglycemia), you may be faced with nerve damage, eye problems, heart disease and even death. Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) can be dangerous too.

If your blood sugar drops too low, you are at risk of seizures, coma and death.

For two years, Dr. Drotar and his fellow researchers followed 225 type 1 diabetes patients aged 9 to 11 years old.

They found that changes in HbA1c (a measure of blood sugar over time) were associated with changes in how often patients checked their blood sugar.

At the end of two years, patients' HbA1c levels rose from 8.2 percent to 8.6 percent. At the same time, the number of times that patients checked their blood sugar went down from 4.9 to 4.5 checks per day.

These findings show that an increase in HbA1c is associated with a decrease in how often patients checked blood sugar. In addition, changes in the amount of blood sugar checks predicted changes to HbA1c.

The authors conclude that infrequent blood sugar checks may have a larger effect on blood sugar control in young adolescents than in older adolescents.

Frequent blood sugar monitoring is a powerful tool for blood sugar control in type 1 diabetes patients making the transition into adolescence, they write.

The results of the study are published in Diabetes Care, a journal of the American Diabetes Association. 

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Review Date: 
May 23, 2012
Last Updated:
August 3, 2012