New ‘sensing’ technology aims to remove finger prick blood tests
Children and young people with type 1 diabetes living in the UK could soon be free from the pain and hassle of routine finger pricks to test blood after a new device with sensing technology was approved.
The FreeStyle Libre flash glucose monitoring system was recently CE approved, passing European specifications, and could mean an end to the days of routine blood glucose (sugar) testing with lancets, test strips and blood for youngsters with type 1 diabetes, aged four to 17.
Approximately 400,000 people are currently living with type 1 diabetes in the UK, with over 29,000 of them children. Type 1 diabetes affects 97% of all children with diabetes in England.
The need for finger prick blood testing could become a thing of the past thanks to new technology
Usually people with type 1 diabetes self-monitor their blood glucose levels by pricking their fingers routinely to check their glucose level, enabling appropriate adjustments to insulin and diet to help achieve good control of their blood sugar readings. However, according to research, there is often reluctance from people with diabetes, especially children and adolescents, to perform this task, due to the discomfort and pain of finger prick.
The newly available device was designed to change how people with diabetes measure their glucose levels and ultimately help them achieve better results in their self-management of the condition.
The system reads glucose levels through a sensor that can be worn on the back of the upper arm for up to 14 days, eliminating the need for routine finger pricks. In addition, no finger prick calibration is needed — unlike other currently available continuous glucose monitoring systems.
Jared Watkin, Senior Vice President, Diabetes Care, Abbott, who produce the device, said: “Children and teens with diabetes and their families have to navigate many challenges in their daily lives as they care for this complex condition. The scientists and engineers at Abbott have made it their life's work to provide the most innovative technology to help people with diabetes improve their diabetes management and ultimately, live happier and healthier lives.”
Dr. Emanuele Bosi, Associate Professor, Department of Endocrinology and Diabetology, Università Vita-Salute in San Raffaele, Milan, added: “The availability of FreeStyle Libre system for children is a critical milestone for children living with diabetes. The technology in Abbott’s FreeStyle Libre system is transformative because it changes how self-monitoring has been done for decades—and is proven to be accurate and stable. I look forward to seeing my young patients achieve better diabetes management, while giving their parents and caretakers more peace of mind.”
Authors of a 2013 study published in the journal Quality of Life Research noted that during sleep people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes may experience hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) more frequently than many doctors realise. In these instances parents and carers often have to wake their child up during the night to test blood sugar levels. The new device offers an alternative system that can be done quickly, painlessly and without disturbing sleep.
Abbott’s FreeStyle Libre system is currently available in the United Kingdom, Austria, France, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, Italy and Spain.
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