New Tool Gives Young Diabetes Patients Freedom

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

INDIANOLA, Iowa --More than 29 million Americans have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. About 208,000 of those are patients younger than 20. New technology helps parents keep an eye on their child's disease.

Isabella Hayes has much more to worry about than a typical eight-year-old. She said, "How to count my carbs, what to do when I'm low, what to do when I'm high."

She has Type One Diabetes, which means her body does not produce insulin. She was diagnosed nearly two years ago. Her mom, Carolyn Vance-Hayes, said, "She had been acting differently. She was probably a little bit naughtier than usual, drinking tons of water."

Now, Isabella wears a Dexcom continuous glucose monitoring system. It constantly keeps an eye on her blood sugar levels letting her know if she's high or low. As of a few months ago, a new app started notifying her parents too. During our interview, her dad's phone went off, letting him know Isabella needed to take action. Adam Hayes said, "It's more of a peace of mind throughout the day, instead of just worrying about her."

Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Dan Sleiter at Blank Children's Pediatric Endocrinology says continuous glucose monitoring has been around a few years, but improved technology is making it more accurate. Now, the Dexcom “Share” application, which allows a patient's receiver to send alerts to five phones, gives kids more freedom. He said, "With this shared technology mom and dad can see it from wherever they're at, so kids can be off at camp or with their friends or at a sleepover and their parents can be at home watching these blood sugars."

Hayes said, "It's a life saver because Bella, she doesn't recognize the high/low symptoms."

Bella and her parents can now relax a little knowing technology will help manager her disease. Vance Hayes said, "Before that you didn't sleep at night. You were kind of worried."

Iowa Medicaid and most private insurance companies cover the continuous glucose monitoring system.