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Insulin pumps more beneficial than daily jabs for diabetics

WASHINGTON: Using a pump to deliver insulin continuously could be more beneficial than daily jabs for patients with type 1 diabetes, says a new study.

Researchers believe that using a pump can be instrumental in gaining better control of blood sugar among people with juvenile diabetes, a condition wherein the patients’ pancreas is not able to secrete enough insulin, causing the levels of glucose in the blood to rise.

Generally, patients inject themselves with insulin three or more times per day to control the sugar level.

However, as part of the study, experts analysed the results of 23 studies that assigned 976 adults and children to one of the two interventions randomly.

They looked at measures such as levels of hemoglobin A1c (or HbA1c), a widely used marker for assessing long-term glucose control. They also looked at the incidence of both high and low blood glucose.

It was noted that participants using the insulin pump had significantly lower HbA1c levels than those using multiple daily injections.

Even though no differences existed between the two for non-severe low blood glucose levels, yet there appeared to be a reduction in severe incidents of low blood glucose among those using the pump.

Lead author Marie Misso, PhD, said: “The findings of this review tell us that both continuous subcutaneous insulin infusion and multiple injections correct blood glucose levels. However, [continuous infusion] may be better for reducing harmful fluctuations in blood glucose.”

Also, Misso, a research fellow at the Monash Institute of Health Services Research in Clayton, Australia, added: “There are numerous studies that evaluate these treatments, but most are of poor quality.

“So there has been uncertainty about which treatment is best for maintaining consistent levels of blood glucose and reducing harmful fluctuations.

“Good evidence is now available to support the use of continuous subcutaneous insulin infusion in the appropriate patient. It is essential to consider adverse events, late complications of diabetes, mortality and cost when deciding whether [a pump] is appropriate for the patient.”

The study has been published in the latest issue of The Cochrane Library, a publication of the Cochrane Collaboration, an international organisation that evaluates medical research.

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