Describes monitoring blood sugar levels in children with diabetes. Covers list of supplies needed, including blood sugar meter, testing strips, and lancet. Gives step-by-step instructions. Links to info on type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes in Children: Checking Blood Sugar in a Child
needs to know when his or her blood sugar level is outside the target range.
Fortunately, your child's blood sugar level can be checked anywhere and anytime
by using a home blood sugar (glucose) meter. Blood sugar meters give results quickly.
Knowing your child's blood sugar level helps
you treat low or high blood sugar before it becomes an emergency. It also helps
you know how exercise and food affect your child's blood sugar and how much
short-acting insulin to give (if your child takes insulin).
keys to success in monitoring your child's blood sugar are:
Keeping the meter and supplies with your child
at all times.
Making it a habit to check your child's blood sugar
level by building it into his or her routine.
Checking the meter's accuracy when you visit the doctor
by comparing results with the doctor's results.
Here is a simple way
to get started monitoring your child's blood sugar at home. Use these same
steps to help your child learn this task.
Before you start testing your
child's blood sugar:
Talk with the doctor about how often and when
you should test your child's blood sugar. Use a
blood sugar testing times form(What is a PDF document?) to record this information.
testing your child's blood sugar with other daily activities, such as right after getting ready
for breakfast or right before an afternoon activity. This will help your child build the habit of
Be sure you have the supplies you need to test your child's blood
sugar. Keep the supplies together so that a test can be done quickly if
Check your equipment before each test.
Check the expiration date on the testing
strips. If you use test strips after the expiration date on the bottle, you may
not get accurate results.
Many meters don't need a code from the test strips, but some will. If your meter does, make sure the code numbers on the testing
strips bottle match the numbers on the blood sugar meter. If the numbers do not
match, follow the directions that come with the meter for changing the code
Most manufacturers recommend that you use a meter's sugar control solution
the first time you use the meter, each time you open a new bottle of test strips, and whenever you need to check the accuracy of the
meter's results. Follow the
directions that came with your meter for using the control solution
When you test your child's blood sugar, you will know more about how
well his or her treatment is keeping blood sugar within a target range.
Follow these steps when you test your child's blood sugar:
Wash your hands with warm, soapy water, and
dry them well with a clean towel. Have your child wash and dry his or her
Put a clean needle (lancet) in the pen-sized lancet
device. It holds and positions the lancet and controls how deeply the lancet
goes into the skin.
Take a test strip from the bottle. Put the lid
back on the bottle immediately to prevent moisture from affecting the other
Prepare the blood sugar meter. Follow the manufacturer's
instructions for your specific meter.
Use the lancet device to stick the side of your child's fingertip with the lancet. Some devices and blood sugar meters
allow blood testing on other parts of the body, such as the forearm, leg, or hand. Be sure you know where
your device can be used.
Put a drop of blood on the
correct spot on the test strip, covering the test area well.
a clean cotton ball, apply pressure to the place where you stuck your child's
finger (or other site). This will stop the bleeding.
Wait for the results. Most meters take only a few seconds to give you the results.
Record the results
Recording your child's blood sugar results is very important. The doctor
will use your child's record to see how often blood sugar levels have been in a
target range and to determine if your child's insulin dose or other diabetes medicine needs to be adjusted. This information lets you and your doctor know how your child's medicine, food, and activity are affecting your child's blood sugar. Be sure to take your child's record with you on
each visit to the doctor or diabetes educator.
To record your
child's results, you can:
Get printed blood sugar logs from companies
that make diabetes medicines and supplies. Or use a home blood sugar diary(What is a PDF document?).
Make a blood sugar log
in a notebook. You can record other information in the log or notebook, such as
insulin doses, physical activity, and what your child has
Use the memory-storage feature of the meter and other note-taking features. Find out if your child's doctor can
transfer the data to your child's medical record or if you can make reports to share.
Preventing sore fingers
The more often your
child's blood sugar is tested, the more likely it is your child will have sore
fingertips. Here are some suggestions to help reduce this pain.
Don't prick the tip of your child's finger.
If you do, the prick will be more painful, and you may not get enough blood to
do the test accurately. Always prick the side of the
Don't squeeze your child's fingertip. If you have
trouble getting a drop of blood large enough to cover the test area of the
strip, hang your child's hand down below his or her waist and count to 5. Then
squeeze your child's finger beginning closest to his or her hand and moving
outward to the end of the finger.
Use a different finger each time.
Establish a pattern for which finger you stick so that you won't use some
fingers more than others. If a finger becomes sore, avoid using it for testing
for a few days.
Use a different device. Some blood sugar meters use
lancet devices that can get a blood sample from sites other than the fingers,
such as the forearm, leg, or hand.
Use a different lancet.
Some lancet devices can be set to prick the skin deeply or lightly depending on the thickness of your child's skin and where on your child's body you are getting the blood.
Don't reuse lancets. They get dull and cause
pain. A used lancet can carry bacteria that can make your child sick. Some
people reuse lancets anyway. If you do, wash your and your child's hands well each time. And use a new lancet each
day to reduce the chance for bacteria growth.
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Stephen LaFranchi, MD - Pediatrics, Pediatric Endocrinology
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.