Alleviating the mental burden of type 1 diabetes through medical technology

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(BPT) - When Natasha McLean’s son, Mason, was just over a year old, she noticed some of his behaviors began to change drastically. He started excessively urinating, significantly more than he ever had before, accompanied by extreme mood swings and a tangible increase in appetite. Thinking it was a phase, she monitored his behavior and waited for it to pass, but after it persisted, Natasha conducted some research and realized her son was likely diabetic.

The family’s pediatrician confirmed her suspicion — Mason was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 16 months. From there, Natasha and her family were immediately rushed to the hospital where they remained for two days, accompanied by near-daily visits for the next two weeks.

Approximately 1.6 million Americans are living with type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease in which the body can’t make insulin, the hormone needed for sugar (glucose) to enter cells and produce energy. When it can’t enter the cells, sugar stays in the bloodstream and builds up, which can cause serious illness if not treated.[1]

To manage type 1, insulin is taken throughout the day via either multiple daily injections (MDI) from an insulin pen, or use of an insulin pump, and glucose levels are monitored on a constant basis.[1] It’s a 24/7 disease that requires constant management, continuously and carefully balancing insulin dosing with eating, exercise, and other activities. When children or adolescents are diagnosed with diabetes, it changes the day-to-day lives of the entire family, with parents and caregivers playing a large role in the monitoring of the disease.

“Because Mason is only two, he isn’t old enough yet to tell me how he’s feeling, which adds an extra challenge for me when monitoring his sugar and insulin levels,” said Natasha. “It can be overwhelming and all-consuming, which adds additional stress on top of the normal anxiety that comes with parenting a young child.”

Recently, the MiniMedTM 770G system was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as the first-of-its-kind automated insulin delivery and monitoring system available to children as young as two.[2] The hybrid closed loop system automatically adjusts background insulin every five minutes and is able to calculate a personalized amount of insulin based on the sensor sugar.[3] It also allows parents or other caregivers to see pump and glucose data remotely on their smartphones, with alerts for when sugar levels go out of range.[4]

“I can now monitor Mason’s pump and glucose data remotely on my phone, and I get an alert if his sugar levels swing too high or low,” said Natasha. “This has resulted in full nights of sleep for my husband and I for the first time since Mason’s diagnosis, rather than taking turns monitoring his sugars manually all day and night.[5] We’re also able to check his levels on our smartphone during the day, instead of interrupting him while he’s playing, and chasing him around to check his glucose levels — giving him and me freedom we didn’t have before.”

If you or your child has type 1 diabetes, talk to your doctor to learn more about the MiniMed 770G. Product details are available at medtronicdiabetes.com/770G.


[1] Type 1 diabetes. Mayo Clinic. Available at https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/type-1-diabetes/symptoms-causes/syc-20353011. Accessed February 4, 2021.

[2] FDA Approves First-of-its-Kind Automated Insulin Delivery and Monitoring System for Use in Young Pediatric Patients. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Available at https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-approves-first-its-kind-automated-insulin-delivery-and-monitoring-system-use-young-pediatric. Accessed February 4, 2021.

[3] Refers to SmartGuard™ Auto mode. Some user interaction required. Individual results may vary.

[4] MiniMed 770G System. Medtronic Diabetes. Available at https://www.medtronic.com/us-en/healthcare-professionals/products/diabetes/insulin-pump-systems/minimed-770g.html. Accessed February 4, 2021.

[5] New research shows how to keep diabetics safer during sleep. Available at https://scopeblog.stanford.edu/2014/05/08/new-research-keeps-diabetics-safer-during-sleep/. Accessed February 4, 2021.