Detection of surreptitious administration of analog insulin to an 8-week-old infant

Rebecca P. Green, Abby S. Hollander, Mario Thevis, Andreas Thomas, Dennis J. Dietzen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


An 8-week-old infant presented to the emergency department with lethargy, tachycardia, and a blood glucose concentration of 1.8 mmol/L. After admission, hypoglycemia recurred on 3 additional occasions. Initial urinalysis results were negative for ketones, and the results of additional laboratory tests did not support the diagnosis of cortisol or growth hormone deficiency, oral hypoglycemic ingestion, or an inborn error of metabolism. Difficulty restoring and maintaining glucose concentrations along with a transient response to glucagon during 1 hypoglycemic episode suggested hyperinsulinism. In 1 hypoglycemic episode, elevated insulin and low C-peptide concentrations suggested exogenous insulin administration, but 2 subsequent blood samples obtained during hypoglycemia contained appropriately decreased concentrations of insulin. The insulin immunoassay initially used in this case (Roche ElecSys/cobas [Roche Diagnostics, Indianapolis, IN]) was insensitive to insulin analogs. Two additional immunoassays, 1 with intermediate (Immulite [Siemens, Deerfield, IL]) and 1 with broad (radioimmunoassay [Millipore, Inc, Billerica, MA]) reactivity to insulin analogs were used to characterize insulin in each of the critical blood samples. Samples obtained during hypoglycemia displayed a graded reactivity similar to that observed in type 1 diabetic patients prescribed insulin analogs, whereas a sample obtained from the patient and a control subject during euglycemia showed equal reactivity among the 3 assays. These data suggested administration of insulin analog to the child, and further characterization of insulin by using tandem mass spectrometry confirmed the presence of Humalog. The child was subsequently placed in foster care with no further recurrence of hypoglycemia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e1236-e1240
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2010


  • Hypoglycemia
  • Immunoassay
  • Insulin
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Munchausen by proxy


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