Blood Glucose Monitoring, Child

Monitoring your child's blood glucose helps to manage their diabetes and helps them to live a healthy life. Blood glucose is also called "blood sugar."

WHY MONITOR BLOOD GLUCOSE?

  1. It can help improve your child's blood glucose control.

  2. It can help you understand how food, exercise, and medicine affect your child's blood glucose.

  3. It allows you to know your child's blood glucose at any given moment. The results are immediate so you can quickly tell if your child is having low blood glucose (hypoglycemia) or high blood glucose (hyperglycemia).

  4. It can help you and your child's caregiver determine when and how to adjust your child's medicine.

  5. It can help you to manage your child's sickness. It is not unusual for blood glucose to go up during illness. Therefore, you can watch for hyperglycemia by monitoring your child's blood glucose carefully.

WHEN TO TEST

Your child's caregiver will tell you how often to check your child's blood glucose. This will depend on their type of diabetes, their current level of diabetes control, and the medicines he or she is taking. The following are general guidelines, but your child's care plan may be different. Write down all readings and the time of day they were taken. This information can be reviewed with the caregiver.

Type 1 Diabetes 

Generally, you should check your child's blood glucose 4 times each day. Sometimes you may be asked to test your child's blood glucose:

  • Before each meal.

  • Before giving insulin.  

  • Before and after exercise or physical activity.  

  • After correcting a hypoglycemia.  

  • Between meals or 2 hours after meals.  

  • Occasionally between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m.  

Type 2 Diabetes 

In general, although not as well defined, blood glucose testing for a child with type 2 diabetes is no different than for a child with type 1 diabetes. If the child is not taking insulin, sometimes the frequency of testing is not as often. Your child's caregiver will tell you how often to check your child's blood glucose.

KNOW YOUR CHILD'S TARGET BLOOD GLUCOSE RANGE

Your child's diabetes team will tell you what glucose range is acceptable for your child. The glucose range may vary depending on your child's age and their activity level throughout the day.

SUPPLIES NEEDED

The supplies needed to check your child's blood glucose include:

  • A finger poking device (lancet).

  • A blood glucose meter.

  • Test strips. Each meter has its own strip, so you must use the one that goes with your child's meter.  

  • A book to write down your child's test results.  

Your child's diabetes team can help you choose the best lancet and blood glucose meter for your child.

HOW TO GET A BLOOD SAMPLE

  • Have your child wash his or her hands with soap and water. Do not use alcohol.

  • Prick the side of your child's finger (not the tip) with a lancet.  

  • Hold your child's hand down, and gently milk the finger until a small drop of blood appears.  

  • Be sure to rotate the fingers each time you stick your child's finger.

ALTERNATE TESTING SITES

Some meters are approved to use on alternative sites. Alternate testing sites are areas that you get blood from other than the finger. The most common alternative site is the forearm, but some of the other areas are:

  • The upper arm.

  • Thigh.

  • Calf.

  • Palm of the hand.

One problem with these sites is that blood flows slower in these areas. This may mean that the value is delayed or "behind" the number you would get in the fingertips. It is important to rub the area you are going to stick before you get blood, in order to increase blood flow.

If you use sites other than the finger, be sure you have a meter that is approved for alternative sites. Do not use alternative sites if you think your child has hypoglycemia. You will not get an accurate reading. Use his or her finger in this situation.

CONTINUOUS GLUCOSE MONITORS

Some continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) can be used for children age 7 and above. Make sure your child is approved to use a CGM by his or her caregiver. A CGM has a blood glucose sensor attached to a small needle that is inserted just beneath the skin. Blood glucose readings are taken often throughout the day and night. The readings are sent wirelessly to a small monitor that can be attached to a belt or kept in a pocket. The readings can be downloaded to a computer. Some CGMs send information to an insulin pump that tells the pump how much insulin to give. All CGMs will sound an alarm if there is a low or high reading that is not at an appropriate level. The CGM needle site will need to be changed after 3 days.

GENERAL TIPS

  • Your child should have their blood glucose meter with them at all times.

  • Do not reuse lancets.  

  • Bring your child's blood glucose monitoring supplies and blood glucose records to their follow-up visits.  

  • Blood glucose meters should be calibrated with a control solution every few boxes of strips.  

  • Call the number on the meter for technical support if your child's meter is out of range or if daily readings do not make sense. The meter can be brought into a follow-up appointment to be checked.