MIAMI – A new pump for people with Type 1 diabetes has just been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in children, starting at age 7.
When Colton Smith was diagnosed with the disease at the age of 14, it was quite a shock to him.
"It was kind of out of the blue," Colton said.
Dr. Miladys Palau Collazo, a pediatric endocrinologist at Nicklaus Children's Hospital, said the diagnosis changes families forever.
"When you have Type 1 diabetes, you actually have to think like you're a pancreas," Palau said.
The challenge is regulating blood sugar levels.
Colton was getting up to eight shots of insulin a day. His mother, Jean Smith, said she was concerned about him playing football.
"My worry was, 'OK, he's going to lay flat on the field and he's going to be out,' you know?" she said.
Palau said exercise can have an effect on blood sugar levels up to 12 hours later.
That's where the MiniMed 670g system by Medtronic comes in. The pump has a glucose sensor that measures blood sugar every five minutes.
"The pump has a computer algorithm that can calculate the rate of rises and drops in blood sugar and deliver the insulin," Palau said.
So Colton can set it and forget it when he hits the field.
"I just disconnect it from me and give it to my trainer to hold onto during the game," he said. "Then, when it's over, I just reconnect and I'm good to go."
Because the system is able to adjust the amount of insulin the patient is getting, there are no more worries overnight.
"It will send an alert to the parents and let them know that the blood sugar is low, and they need to come fix the problem," Palau said.
Colton said the pump has been a game changer.
"I don't find myself worrying about it, and I get to enjoy life a lot better," he said.
Studies show patients using the MiniMed 670g pump spend up to 75 percent of their time in the target range for blood sugar.
The pump is covered by most insurance companies.