About three out of four severe hypoglycemic reactions, in which a diabetic's blood sugar drops to a dangerously low level, occur overnight. Parents of children with diabetes typically get up several times a night to check whether the child's blood sugar is within healthy levels.
The bedside monitor, with an alarm that alerts the caregiver to blood glucose changes, helps protect against low blood sugar episodes, which can lead to seizures or even coma or death. Parents and other caregivers can see a child's or adult's glucose trends and insulin pump information on the device, called the mySentry Remote Glucose Monitor, and can take action to prevent a further decline in blood sugar if needed or remain in bed if all is well.
Britta Bushnell, whose 11-year-old son Kaden Kessel was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was 2, is used to getting up during the night to check her child's blood sugar. She believes having a monitor could have prevented two low-glucose episodes that caused Kaden to temporarily lose the use of his limbs and ability to speak.
A suburban Los Angeles mother, Britta received a monitor last summer as part of Medtronic's evaluation process for the device. She stated that it gave her a peace of mind at night.
The mySentry monitor, which costs about $3,000, works with Medtronic's MiniMed Paradigm Real-Time Revel System, an insulin pump with built-in continuous glucose monitoring. In addition to displaying blood sugar readings, the device provides information on the insulin pump battery life and amount of insulin remaining.
Medtronic, a leading maker of insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors, is among the companies and researchers working to develop an artificial pancreas system that ultimately would provide insulin dosing automatically.
Medtronic is also looking to develop monitoring technology that can one day work with consumer devices including mobile phones, Meehan said. "This is the first step in what we think is going to be a significant innovation category for diabetes care in the future," he said.