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Hypoglycemia Episodes Often Missed by Parents

A seven-month trial conducted by a team of researchers from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, said that parents, more than their type 1 diabetic children, have a hard time recognizing warming signs of hypoglycemia or extremely low blood sugar levels.

Researchers found that parents missed their children’s moderate hypoglycemia 54% of the time, while children missed 41% of these episodes.

In the study, the researchers asked 61 children, aged 6 to 11, and their parents to rate hypoglycemia symtoms, estimate the child’s blood sugar level, and measure it using a survey programmed on a personal digital assistant. Study participants completed 70 of these tests over a month, then reported cases of severe hypoglycemia for the next six months.

After the trial period, it was found that both children’s and their parents’ estimates were accurate only less than one-third of the time. In addition, in 23% of the cases, parents made mistakes that could have very harmful consequences — for example, mistaking low blood sugar symptoms as symptoms of high blood sugar levels. On the other hand, 27% of children’s estimates were found to be also potentially harmful mistakes.

“Parents and children in ggeneral are not provided with anough patient education about hypoglycemia and its impact on the body, especially the central nervous system,” said study leader Dr.Linda Gonder-Frederick.

She also added that mistaking a hypoglycemia emergency for a hyperglycemia attack will result to children not receiving enough glucose. When these children’s brains don’t get enough glucose, young patients with diabetes tend to lose control over their behavior, which parent may mistake for misbehavior.

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