To evaluate the accuracy of blood glucose symptom recognition and subjective blood glucose estimation in insulin-dependent diabetic (IDDM) children and their parents.

Research Design and Methods

Blood glucose estimation questionnaires were completed 4 times/day at home during routine activities. A sequential sample of 19 families, who attended a pediatric diabetes clinic, with IDDM children <2265; 12 yr old and IDDM duration of > or equal to 9 mo comprised the study.


Error grid analysis showed that both children and parents demonstrated poor accuracy, making clinically significant errors as frequently as clinically accurate estimates. The most common error was the failure to detect extreme blood glucose levels, with a significant tendency to underestimate hyperglycemia. Children often reported hypoglycemia when blood glucose was hyperglycemic. Confidence in the ability to estimate blood glucose was unrelated to measured accuracy.


IDDM children and their parents demonstrated a higher rate of blood glucose estimation errors than IDDM adolescents and adults in previous studies. Even in families who use self-monitoring of blood glucose frequently, self-reported ability to recognize symptoms and estimate blood glucose should be viewed with caution. Families with IDDM children need more education about errors in symptom recognition and blood glucose estimation. They should also be encouraged to use self-monitoring of blood glucose before treating children's reported hypoglycemic symptoms whenever possible.

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