September 18, 2015

8 questions to discuss before deciding to try pump therapy.

Tennesseans are no strangers to diabetes, either type 1 or type 2. By 2013, 12.2 percent of Tennesseans were diagnosed with the disease, according to the Trust for America’s Health.

If your child has diabetes, the question of an insulin pump is important to consider, whether the diagnosis was recent or he or she has been living with diabetes for years. An insulin pump is a small device about the size of a credit card that sends insulin to the body through thin, plastic tubing.

If you answer yes to these questions, your child may be a good candidate for an insulin pump:

  1. Is your child’s current diabetes treatment plan successful? If you’re having trouble managing now, you may want to postpone a pump, because pump management can be more complex than injection therapy.
  2. Have your family and child researched and learned about the pros and cons of an insulin pump?
  3. Are both parents invested in the pump? All caregivers should be ready to learn to program the pump and count carbohydrates for the child.
  4. Is there someone at your child’s school and/or day care who can assist if needed?
  5. Have you talked with your child about how a pump may work with sports activities and if he or she would be comfortable wearing the pump in front of peers?
  6. Have you discussed with your child’s doctor the possibility of pump therapy?
  7. Do you have a backup plan to inject insulin if the pump fails?


It’s important to remember that there are advantages as well as disadvantages to the pump. Vanderbilt University Medical Center offers some facts to remember:


  • Reduces the number of shots needed (good if child is afraid of needles).
  • Acts more like the body’s natural release of insulin than shots can.
  • Allows for both quick and around-the-clock delivery of insulin.
  • Gives child more freedom in what or when he or she eats than with shots.
  • May lead to fewer extreme highs and lows than with shots.
  • May improve child’s A1C number.



  • May not improve blood sugar numbers.
  • Meal boluses must still be remembered and given.
  • Frequent blood sugar checks are still needed.
  • Close supervision of child is still needed (maybe even more so than with shots).
  • Pump may be visible to others (puts diabetes “out there” for people to see).
  • May be an ongoing expense and may not be covered by health insurance.
  • Requires special training for parent and child.
  • May increase child’s risk of getting infections.
  • May increase child’s risk of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) if the pump or infusion set malfunctions.



Discuss insulin pumps with your child’s doctor by scheduling an appointment with the Vanderbilt’s Children’s Diabetes Clinic at (615) 322-7842.