In children using intensive insulin therapy, a 20-g variation in carbohydrate amount significantly impacts on postprandial glycaemia

Diabet Med. 2012 Jul;29(7):e21-4. doi: 10.1111/j.1464-5491.2012.03595.x.


Aim: To determine if an insulin dose calculated for a meal containing 60 g carbohydrate maintains postprandial glycaemic control for meals containing 40, 50, 70 or 80 g carbohydrate.

Methods: Thirty-four young people (age range 8.5-17.7 years) using intensive insulin therapy consumed five test breakfasts with equivalent fat, protein and fibre contents but differing carbohydrate quantities (40, 50, 60, 70 and 80 g of carbohydrate). The preprandial insulin dose was the same for each meal, based on the subject's usual insulin:carbohydrate ratio for 60 g carbohydrate. Continuous glucose monitoring was used to monitor postprandial glucose over 180 min.

Results: The 40-g carbohydrate meal resulted in significantly more hypoglycaemia than the other meals (P = 0.003). There was a one in three chance of hypoglycaemia between 120 and 180 min if an insulin dose for 60 g carbohydrate was given for 40 g carbohydrate. The glucose levels of subjects on the 80-g meal were significantly higher than the 60- and 70-g carbohydrate meals at all time points between 150 and 180 min (P < 0.01). Subjects consuming the 80-g meal were more likely to have significant hyperglycaemia (blood glucose levels ≥ 12 mmol/l) compared with the other meals (P < 0.001).

Conclusions: In patients using intensive insulin therapy, an individually calculated insulin dose for 60 g carbohydrate results in postprandial hypoglycaemia or hyperglycaemia for meals containing 40 and 80 g carbohydrate. To calculate mealtime insulin in order to maintain postprandial control, carbohydrate estimations should be within 10 g of the actual meal carbohydrate.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Blood Glucose Self-Monitoring
  • Child
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / drug therapy*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / metabolism*
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperglycemia / blood
  • Hyperglycemia / drug therapy*
  • Hyperglycemia / etiology
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Insulin / administration & dosage*
  • Insulin / analogs & derivatives
  • Male
  • Postprandial Period
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Blood Glucose
  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Insulin