Tech tackling type 1 diabetes in Greater Manchester children

Thousands of children and young people across Greater Manchester are seeing their lives transformed for the better by new technology that helps them manage their type 1 diabetes. 

Type 1 diabetes is a condition in the body cannot produce a hormone called insulin which controls the levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood. Overly high or low levels of glucose can cause a range of symptoms from feeling very thirsty and tired to blurred vision and persistent thrush. Managing the condition can involve such measures as a more controlled diet, monitoring of glucose levels and, when needed, injecting insulin. 

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Photo by ANIRUDH

That’s where tech can help. Across the Greater Manchester region, some 42.5% of all under-18s with type 1 diabetes are now using hybrid closed-loop pumps that take readings from a glucose monitor that works continuously, 24/7. From this data, an algorithm calculates how much insulin the pump should deliver, automatically. 

Before this was available, many parents of children with type 1 diabetes said they would be awake frequently each night to check and correct levels of blood sugar. They say the new tech has been Overall blood sugar control is much improved and there has been a reduction in ‘hypos’, which is where blood sugar levels drop so low that people experience severe symptoms such as blurred vision. 

The use of these hybrid closed-loop pumps also aids the wider health and social care system at a time when it is under huge pressure. As families and young people are better able to stabilise the condition through use of the new tech, there is a corresponding reduction in admissions to hospital. 

The Children and Young People Network – one of the Greater Manchester and Eastern Cheshire strategic clinical networks established in 2013 – has been involved in prescribing this new tech to the under-18s. Given its success, the network will now partner with the Diabetes Network to rollout further closed-loop pumps to priority groups, following new national guidance. These priority groups include adults with type 1 diabetes who have high levels of glucose attached to their haemoglobin (measured by the HbA1c blood test) or poorly managed diabetes, as well as people with type 1 diabetes who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. 

Dr Chris Cooper, clinical lead of the Children and Young People Network, says: ‘This is the biggest development in diabetes care in decades, benefitting lots of Greater Manchester families. Much of its success has been down to the hard work of the specialist paediatric diabetes teams, who carry out intense training with young people, families and schools.’ 

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Simon Guerrier
Writer and journalist for Infotec, Social Care Today and Air Quality News


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