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article imageDiabetic children in school need more than stylish glucose meters

By Ken Hanly     Oct 2, 2017 in Health
Scientists from the University of Wellington in New Zealand suggest glucose testing meters be more stylish so that children with type I diabetes are not embarrassed when they use the meters in school.
A student with Type I is quite likely to be the only student using medical equipment in class in checking blood glucose levels. They may feel self-conscious when they pull out the meter--plus a test strip and a lancet device.
A recent article claims that this is especially true for girls although no studies are cited to confirm this view. The scientists think that this problem can be helped by having glucose meters with jewelery-inspired design.
What the kids want
The scientists interviewed some girls aged 13-24 with type 1 diabetes to find out what sort of design requirements they wished in a meter. One would think there might be interviews with females who are all children. However, their responses were interesting in that they wanted such things as a well-functioning meter, one that blended in with other everyday items and did not draw attention to itself. Wouldn't a glucose meter designed to be stylish and like jewelry call attention to itself?
The researchers decided to have young people themselves tackle the design problem. 28 participated. Ideas included a watch. As a recent Digital Journal article points out such a device already exists but is rather costly.
Gillian McCarthy, author of the study, said: “The feedback we got from the teenagers was positive. We weren’t looking to create finished medical devices to go to market, but wanted to promote discussion and show the importance of respecting their psychosocial requirements”. While it may be important to design medical instruments that children use in public in a way that can lessen any possible embarrassment, many children may simply want to test for blood glucose in private and not in public view.
Insulin another problem to tackle
Type I diabetics not only need to test their glucose levels regularly but also need to inject themselves with insulin using a pen or a syringe. The pens no doubt look less formidable and could be stylish. However, most diabetics probably would prefer to do the injection in private rather than public.
The Canadian Pediatric Society has a website that lists a set of rules for Canadian schools. In part, the document says: Schools must provide all students with a clean, convenient and safe area for diabetes self-care, and respect students’ personal preference for privacy. Self-care tasks include blood glucose monitoring and the administration of insulin via injection or insulin pump. The level of autonomy will vary based on age and the individual child. The youngest children will need school personnel to provide all aspects of glucose monitoring and insulin administration, while older elementary school students are likely to need supervision only. As students mature, they are typically more able to provide self-care. School personnel should be identified and trained within the school to support students as needed.
Providing type I diabetic children in schools with the facilities and care suggested in the above recommendations should be a pressing priority for communities looking to promote better healthcare among school children.
More about Glucose meters, Insulin pump, Type 1 diabetes
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