The poor children of the poor: Coping with diabetes control in a resource-poor setting

F P R de Villiers


Background. Coping with diabetes control is difficult for newly diagnosed and experienced patients alike. Children with diabetes face severe challenges, as they may not yet have attained the necessary cognitive, fine motor or psychosocial skills required for performance of the tasks required from the diabetic patient. Most therefore require some adult assistance.

Objectives. To establish whether paediatric diabetic patients are adequately supported by their families in terms of giving insulin injections and doing home blood glucose monitoring (HBGM), and whether insulin and the necessary equipment are appropriately stored in their homes.

Methods. Patients attending a paediatric diabetes clinic were interviewed. The data collected included demographic variables, type of insulin, measurement of insulin doses, administration of insulin, and blood glucose monitoring tests.

Results. Twenty-five subjects were interviewed: 18 measured the insulin themselves, five mothers and one aunt did so, and in one case the mother and patient did so together. The four children aged ≤10 years had their insulin measured by their mothers, but one had to administer the injection himself. Eight of the nine children aged 11 - 15 years measured and administered the insulin themselves; in four cases the doses were checked by an adult. The mothers of four children did the fingerpricks, and eight children were helped with measuring the results. Only two children aged 11 - 15 years had their doses checked by an adult.

Conclusion. Adult assistance with regard to both insulin injections and HBGM is rarely forthcoming. The children seem not to besufficiently supported by their families.

Author's affiliations

F P R de Villiers, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, MEDUNSA Campus, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, Pretoria, South Africa

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Diabetes control; Resource-poor setting; Children

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2015;105(5):397-399. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.8496

Article History

Date submitted: 2015-09-17
Date published: 2015-09-17

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