New UK guidance on insulin pumps gives school kids with diabetes freedom from injections

6 September 2008

New UK guidance on the use of insulin pump therapy from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) looks set to revolutionise the way children manage their diabetes [1].

It will grant some 20,000 UK children with Type 1 diabetes[2] starting the new school year more freedom and control for their condition.

The new recommendations finally acknowledge key research  supported by Roche, that shows the positive impact of pumps on quality of life for sufferers and their families[3].

Roche has been working closely with diabetes healthcare specialists to raise awareness of pump therapy and encourage and support new users. Roche welcomes the new guidelines that recommend greater access to insulin pump therapy to manage Type 1 diabetes, particularly amongst children and young people, with pumps replacing traditional insulin injections which have been shown to interrupt the school day[3].

Dr Katharine Barnard PhD, School of Psychology at the University of Southampton, one of the UK's leading authorities into quality of life issues surrounding insulin pumps in Type 1 diabetes, who has worked with Roche says: "There are significant psychosocial benefits associated with insulin pump therapy, particularly improved quality of life. The new NICE guidelines should facilitate greater access to this therapy, which will only be good news for patients and their families. For children it should have a positive impact on both their school and home life."

Benefits of replacing injections with insulin pump therapy include fewer hypoglycaemic episodes, the opportunity to participate in sports without having to plan ahead and the choice to eat a wider variety of food as the pump can be easily adjusted to supply the right amount of insulin each moment of the day.

Britain is lagging behind other major countries in terms of diabetes management with less than 1% of Type 1 cases using an insulin pump in the UK, compared to many other countries such as US and Germany where 15-20% use a pump[4].

With a five-fold increase in the number of under fives diagnosed over the past 20 years, and one child in 1,000[5] affected, access to insulin pump therapy is essential for children to have the opportunity to live as close to a normal a life as possible and feel less 'controlled' by their diabetes as Dr Barnard's adolescent study amongst pump users found.

Dr Barnard continued: "The new guidance should hopefully open up access to children and their families and pumps are then provided according to need, choice and suitability."

Insulin pumps are not suitable for everyone and they need thorough explanation and training.


1. National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence guidance. Diabetes — insulin pump therapy. Continuous subcutaneous insulin infusion for the treatment of diabetes.

2. Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

3. Barnard KD, Speight J & Skinner TC. Impact of insulin pump therapy on quality of life of children/adolescents with Type 1 diabetes and their parents: an overview study. Practical Diabetes International, October 2008.

4. Diabetes UK. Insulin Pump Services — Report of the Insulin Pumps Working Group. March 2007.

5. University of Bristol, March 2007 (PJ Bingley, Department of Clinical Science).

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