We've all been told how important blood glucose monitoring is. You check before taking insulin, before sports, before bed, maybe even in the middle of the night. But which meter should you use? Is one easier to use than another? And what about your child? Which meter is easiest for a child to use? The reviews here are designed to help you make that decision. Recommended meters are noted by the
When we first published reviews of meters, there was a wide gap between meters that were recommended and meters which were not. Today (late 2007), each major meter company has a product that will work very well for everyone, including children. Blood volume is 1 microliter or under for all recommended meters. Test times are 5 to 7 seconds. Extensive memories with averaging are common. With the choice of a meter often driven by one's insurance company, the good news is that all major companies have a product that is a fine choice for children with diabetes.
Regardless of the meter that you decide to use, you should have to pay almost nothing for it. Manufacturers are always discounting their meters because they make their real money on the test strips. So check out the list of mail order pharmacies and call them before you buy.
Most meters today have a special data port that can be connected to a personal computer. If yours does, or you're just curious, see Computerizing Your Meter for reviews and software to download. Note that almost all require a PC and few programs work on a Macintosh.
The meters listed below are those that are being actively sold by major companies in the United States. Some meters that were popular a year or two ago may no longer be sold, though test strips for meters are generally available for many years after the meter itself is discontinued. Also, different meters are often sold outside of the United States.
Alternate Site Testing
Since fingertip testing can be painful, manufacturers are now marketing meters that are approved for testing using alternate sites, such as the forearm or palm. Meters that are FDA approved for alternative site testing are indicated by a green check mark
image. Be sure to read out section about alternate site testing for more information.
Glucose Meters and Test Strips
This list of meters includes products actively marketed. Test strips for older meters that are no longer actively sold are often still be available, even if they are not reviewed here. Not all meters available are reviewed here. We include only those that we believe are the best choices for children with diabetes.
- Abbott Diabetes Care
- Ascensia (Bayer Diagnostics)
- Roche Diagnostics
Visual Test Strips
Visual test strips change color depending upon the amount of glucose in the blood. While not as precise as blood glucose meters, they can be less expensive than test strips for meters and therefore can be an alternative for people who find meters and strips difficult to afford. Most visual strips can be cut lengthwise to reduce the cost of each test even more. Visual strips can also be useful in situations where carrying a meter or obtaining replacement batteries is difficult.
Need Help Choosing?
Need help choosing a meter for your child or yourself? Start with the meters with the smiley face, indicating meters that are recommended for use by children with diabetes. Then consider what features are important to you, such as speed, memories, ability to interface with a computer, and size. Ask your diabetes team to help you get a meter to try out.
You can usually get a free meter with the purchase of 100 or more test strips.
These graphs can help you compare price, speed, and blood volumes of various meters:
Price of Test Strips Meter Test Times Blood Volume Requirements of Test Strips
If you spend a lot of time outdoors, check out Test Strip Temperature Ranges to see which test strips meet your needs.
Top Ranked Meters
These are our top-ranked meters by manufacturer, listed in alphabetical order by vendor name:
Blood Glucose Meter Evaluation Criteria
Since it's difficult to examine every meter, and it's even more difficult to get an opinion about meters from some doctors, we will review them here. The reviews evaluate each meter in the following areas:
- Ease of use: This is a very subjective rating and could easily vary from person to person. This is a moving target, since meters are getting easier to use all the time. Scores range from one (Mommy, help!) to ten (I did it all myself!)
- Features: Meters today offer memories with averaging, data ports for downloading data to computers for further analysis -- some even have graphical displays. As new features appear in meters, these scores are re-evaluated.
- Speed of results: Meters produce results quickly. But some are quicker than others. When your child is on the verge of passing out, you don't want to wait one second longer than necessary for your answer. Scores range from zero (slowest) to ten (fastest). See graphical representation speed of test results.
- Suitability for use by children under ten years old: Once again this is subjective, but young kids can have a hard time opening foil-wrapped strips and often forget to write down the results. Meters that require smaller blood volumes are more suitable for young kids than meters that require larger blood volumes. Scores range from one (Forget it) to ten (No problem).
- Suitability for use by children over ten years old: This is also subjective, but older kids can take on the foil-wrapped strips and meters that require more blood. Meters lacking a data port require the user to write everything down, which some people forget. Scores range from one (Forget it) to ten (No problem).
- Cost: No matter how wonderful one meter is compared to another, if you can't afford it, it doesn't do you any good. Though insurance covers meters and strips, not everyone has insurance. This is primarily a rating of the cost of the strips, since over time, the cost of the meter will be insignificant compared to the cost of the strips. Scores range from zero (expensive) to ten (inexpensive). See the graphical representation of test strip prices.
- Overall Rating: Add up the scores. 60 is perfect. If you're considering a new meter, review all meters and find one that best meets your individual need. Discuss the meter with your diabetes team to see if they have software to read it. Such software helps your team give you the best possible care.
For More Information
- Diabetes Health Magazine Meter Reference.
- Blood Sugar Meters from the Diabetes Mall
- Choosing a Blood Glucose Meter from the ADA
- Blood Glucose Monitoring from the FAQ of the misc.health.diabetes newsgroup
- Non-invasive Blood Glucose Meters
- Consumer Reports magazine reviewed blood glucose meters in its October 2001 issue.
- Blood Glucose Meters from Diabetes UK
- The Office of In Vitro Diagnostic Device Evaluation and Safety in FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health has a new web site for Reporting Problems with Glucose Meters and Continuous Glucose Monitoring Systems. The goal for this site is to help FDA understand better the real-world challenges experienced by people with diabetes when they use blood glucose meters and continuous sensors. This is not a forum to bash vendors, but rather a way for consumers to help influence design goals for improving these important tools for managing diabetes. You may also email your comments to [email protected]
The reviews of products are the opinion of children with DIABETES. Each product is reviewed with a single purpose: to determine if the product is suitable for use by children with type 1 diabetes, their parents, and, to a lesser degree, adults with type 1 diabetes. There are many products aimed at adults with type 2 diabetes that are not appropriate or suitable for children or adults with type 1 diabetes.
Last updated September 22, 2007
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