UK First to Offer Access to Continuous Glucose Monitoring for Children with Type 2 Diabetes
By Anna Brooks
The National Institute of Clinical Excellence recently announced it was the first to expand access to automated glucose monitors for children with type 2 diabetes. The decision is an important one as global rates of children with type 2 diabetes continue to rise.
Children living with type 2 diabetes in the United Kingdom can now be prescribed continuous glucose monitors (CGM) to manage their condition.
In May 2023, the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) updated its guidelines to include CGMs and flash glucose monitors – both types of automated glucose monitoring – for children with type 2 diabetes.
It’s a big step forward for the U.K., as the only way to check blood sugar levels for kids before was through fingerstick testing. While useful, fingersticks can be stressful and cause discomfort, especially for kids and families who have to conduct multiple tests per day.
“Type 2 diabetes is increasingly being diagnosed in children, many of whom face the constant stress of needing to monitor their blood glucose levels by finger prick testing – often multiple times a day – just to stay healthy and avoid complications,” said health minister Helen Whately in a press release.
Previously, CGMs were recommended only for children with type 1 diabetes. The devices have been proven to be extremely valuable for managing the condition as determining insulin needs can be a challenge in young kids.
While not all children with type 2 diabetes require insulin, their families or caregivers may face similar difficulties to those with type 1 in managing symptoms; developmental factors like growth spurts are unique to kids and may cause unpredictable fluctuations in appetite and glucose levels. That, and very young children may not be able to communicate symptoms of hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) or hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
CGMs take readings every five minutes, providing snapshots of blood sugar levels in real-time. This eliminates a lot of guesswork and may improve glycemic control. This type of technology could also be life-changing for children and young adults with type 2 diabetes who also have a learning or cognitive disability that prevents them from performing their own fingerstick tests.
And of course, using a CGM reduces the need for frequent fingersticks – a potential relief for many kids and parents who may dread the daily finger poke.
Diabetes is considered to be a global epidemic, and the number of youths being diagnosed with the condition continues to rise. Close to 1,600 children and teens in the U.K. have type 2 diabetes and an estimated 285 per 100,000 in the U.S. live with the condition. Studies predict that by 2060, the number of people under age 20 in the U.S. with diabetes will have risen by roughly 12%.
While these statistics may be disheartening, innovative technologies like CGM are a monumental step forward. Not only can these devices help people manage their diabetes better, but they also serve as educational tools that provide immediate feedback on how certain foods and exercise habits impact blood sugar.
According to the updated NICE guidelines, a CGM or flash glucose monitor is recommended for children and young adults with type 2 diabetes who:
Have frequent or severe hypoglycemia
Have to check blood sugar levels eight times a day or more
Have a disability that prevents them from utilizing regular fingerstick tests
The U.K. is the first to take the leap in recommending automated glucose monitors for kids with type 2 diabetes, but the decision could pave the way for other countries like the U.S. to follow suit. Right now in the U.S., CGMs can be prescribed for adults with type 2 diabetes but aren’t available yet for children with the condition.
To learn more about type 2 diabetes and glucose monitoring, check out our articles here:
- Medicare Expands CGM Coverage for People with Type 2 Diabetes
- Who should have a CGM?
- New Recommendations on CGM Use Published Worldwide
- Closed Loop Technology Is a Success in Kids
- Early Access to Diabetes Tech for Type 1 Children