Living with diabetes can be hard to cope with for an adult, but for a child the impact can be even greater.
Constantly monitoring blood sugar involves multiple finger prick tests throughout the day and night – an added burden for a youngster who is also faced with everything else the condition brings.
But a new device can prevent the need for so many invasive tests, even allowing for blood glucose levels to be checked without waking a sleeping child.
And nine-year-old sufferer Jemima Hainsworth is benefitting from the Freestyle Libre device.
Jemima, from Cleckheaton, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in August 2014 after showing symptoms including feeling very thirsty. A test at the GPs showed sugar in her urine and within a few hours she was being seen at hospital.
Her mum Allison said: “It was quite a shock because she hadn’t been ill and nobody in our family has diabetes.”
Jemima was able to return home but needs multiple injections of insulin each day, with her blood sugar levels needing to be monitored closely. The readings can be affected by many factors including what she eats, exercise and if she is ill.
“She has been really good and having diabetes doesn’t make her any more poorly – she doesn’t get more infections or colds,” her mum said.
Every day, Jemima and her family try to keep her blood glucose levels as stable as possible by adjusting her insulin accordingly.
But that means many finger prick tests to test what the levels are at different times of day, and that may still only give a partial picture of how the levels can fluctuate.
That meant 10 to 15 tests a day, and even though the youngster now has an insulin pump rather than injections, the tests are very uncomfortable.
“Before, Jemima would have rather not have had a snack so she could avoid a finger prick test,” her mum said.
“We were also having to wake her up to do a finger prick test, which is just an awful thing to have to do to someone.”
Now, thanks to the device, her parents don’t have to disturb her to do a simple test. If her sugar levels are ok, she can carry on sleeping.
The device involves a sensor which sits painlessly under the skin and records the levels and a handheld scanner which picks them up without even touching the skin. That means fewer finger pricks and better management of her condition.
“It’s amazing and it’s been a game changer for us,” Allison said.
“It’s not available on the NHS but hopefully it will be in the future because it’s such a good product and it makes the condition so much easier to deal with.”