Children and adolescents on intensive insulin therapy maintain postprandial glycaemic control without precise carbohydrate counting

Diabet Med. 2009 Mar;26(3):279-85. doi: 10.1111/j.1464-5491.2009.02669.x.


Aims: Carbohydrate (CHO) quantification is used to adjust pre-meal insulin in intensive insulin regimens. However, the precision in CHO quantification required to maintain postprandial glycaemic control is unknown. We determined the effect of a +/-10-g variation in CHO amount, with an individually calculated insulin dose for 60 g CHO, on postprandial glycaemic control.

Methods: Thirty-one children and adolescents (age range 9.5-16.8 years), 17 using continuous subcutaneous insulin infusion (CSII) and 14 using multiple daily injections (MDI), participated. Each subject consumed test lunches of equal macronutrient content, differing only in carbohydrate quantity (50, 60, 70 g CHO), in random order on three consecutive days. For each participant, the insulin dose was the same for each meal, based on their usual insulin : CHO ratio for 60 g CHO. Activity was standardized. Continuous glucose monitoring was used.

Results: The CSII and MDI subjects demonstrated no difference in postprandial blood glucose levels (BGLs) for comparable carbohydrate loads (P > 0.05). The 10-g variations in CHO quantity resulted in no differences in BGLs or area under the glucose curves for 2.5 h (P > 0.05). Hypoglycaemic episodes were not significantly different (P = 0.32). The 70-g meal produced higher glucose excursions after 2.5 h, with a maximum difference of 1.9 mmol/l at 3 h (P = 0.01), but the BGLs remained within international postprandial targets.

Conclusions: In patients using intensive insulin therapy, an individually calculated insulin dose for 60 g of carbohydrate maintains postprandial BGLs for meals containing between 50 and 70 g of carbohydrate. A single mealtime insulin dose will cover a range in carbohydrate amounts without deterioration in postprandial control.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Child
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / drug therapy*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / metabolism*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemia / blood
  • Hypoglycemia / drug therapy*
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Infusions, Subcutaneous / methods
  • Insulin / administration & dosage*
  • Insulin / analogs & derivatives
  • Male
  • Postprandial Period / drug effects
  • Statistics as Topic


  • Blood Glucose
  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Insulin