Parents Seeing a Difference in Type 1 Diabetes Management with New Technology
Prevention and Treatment Continuous glucose monitoring is putting an end to the diabetes guessing game for families and adults alike.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition with no known cause or cure. It causes the body to attack its own insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. For those with the disease, it means a lifetime of trying to manage it by injecting insulin and trying to mimic the action of a normal pancreas. Statistics from the Government of Canada indicate that more than 25,000 children and youth are living with Type 1 diabetes, while over 200,000 Canadian adults are also living with the insulin-dependent condition.
William Bilodeau was just a toddler when his mother, Amanda, noticed that his thirst was extreme. A blood test confirmed what she and her husband, Scott, had suspected — their son had Type 1 diabetes. The Halton Hills, ON-based couple went to a Toronto-area clinic where their nurse introduced them to the Dexcom G5® Mobile Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) system1.
An accurate solution in real time
“CGM technology has changed how we monitor and manage diabetes,” says Dr. Suzanne Stock, a Pediatric Endocrinologist based in North Vancouver, BC. “It is something I recommend for the majority of my patients.” The technology consists of a wearable sensor inserted just below the skin and a transmitter that provides continuous glucose readings at five-minute intervals, allowing data to be sent to a smartphone2 via a mobile app.
With the Dexcom Follow app, parents can view data and trends in their child’s glucose levels 24 hours a day and be alerted in case certain glucose thresholds are crossed. Within the first day of William using the device, Bilodeau discovered the CGM system was also a lifesaver. When her son was at daycare, she was notified on her phone that his blood sugar was plummeting to dangerously low levels.
While she left work to be at his side, the daycare staff were able to wake him from a nap, check his monitor, and give him a juice box to help elevate his blood sugar. “I believe that I would have lost my son that day without Dexcom,” she says. “He could have slipped into a coma and had brain damage.”
All patients deserve transformative solutions
The peace of mind CGM systems deliver cannot be underestimated. Instead of parents having to prick their child’s fingers more than a dozen times a day — an invasive and painful way to get blood sugar readings around the clock — families can rest easy and rely on a steady flow of data. “It’s really a game-changer,” she says. “It makes our quality of life so much better,” says Bilodeau. “My son can visit grandma’s house without me worrying, as I can see how he’s doing no matter where he is.”
Though CGM systems can save lives by improving blood sugar control and avoiding dangerous lows, they are not widely available. This lack of access is unfortunate, notes Dr. Stock. “The main challenge around the use of CGM in our patients is the cost,” she says. “In BC, Pharmacare is not currently covering the cost of this life-saving technology. Many countries outside Canada are now publicly funding CGM systems, but that is not yet the case. Luckily, some extended health benefits providers are starting to pick up these costs but it is not yet universally covered. Hopefully, this will change in the future.”
Bilodeau agrees wholeheartedly. “It’s a shame that more people don’t have access to it,” she says. “Dexcom allows William to be a normal kid and to be safer with his diabetes management. I would have a hard time coping with my son’s condition without it.”
1 The Dexcom CGM System is approved for use on children 2 years old and older.
2 To view a list of compatible devices, visit dexcom.com/compatibility.