There may be a better way to administer insulin -- even for pregnant women… (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles…)
A team of European doctors has tested an “artificial pancreas” aimed at helping pregnant women with Type 1 diabetes control their blood sugar. The goal? To lower their risk of having an abnormal birth or a fatal episode of hypoglycemia.
Funded by the charitable foundation Diabetes UK, the research explores the during-pregnancy potential of a device the size of a cellphone. This "pancreas" has a continuous glucose monitor and an insulin pump that maintains a reliable level of blood sugar.
Type 1 diabetes affects an estimated 32 in every 1,000 pregnancies in the UK, and Dr. Helen Murphy of Cambridge University elaborated to the BBC on the implications of that: "Half of all babies born to mothers with Type 1 diabetes are overweight or obese at birth because of too much sugar in the blood."
Murphy headed the international research team of scientists who conducted the latest research. She added in the BBC story: "These high blood glucose levels increase the risk of congenital malformation, stillbirth, neonatal death, preterm delivery, macrosomia [oversized babies] and neonatal admission. So to discover an artificial pancreas can help maintain near-normal glucose levels in these women is very promising."
The device, which can be attached to clothing, had already been successfully tested on children with Type 1 diabetes.
The latest results -- from tests on 10 diabetic pregnant women -- are published in the February issue of the journal Diabetes Care. In short, they're promising, suggesting that normal blood sugar levels can be reliably achieved.