Artificial pancreas could transform treatment for pregnant women with type 1 diabetes

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The artificial pancreas could “transform treatment” for pregnant women with type 1 diabetes, research has suggested.
In a trial of 16 expectant mothers, the closed-loop artificial pancreas technology, which continuously monitors blood glucose levels and delivers the right amount of insulin, was tested.
Fourteen women wore the artificial pancreas daily and used the system during labour and delivery. All 16 women, aged from 16 to 44 years, gave birth to healthy babies.
The findings showed a 25 per cent improvement in glucose control among those using an artificial pancreas compared with the two women who used sensor-augmented pump therapy as part of a control group.
Lead author of the study Dr Zoe Stewart, from the Institute of Metabolic Science at the University of Cambridge, said: “Managing type 1 diabetes in pregnancy can be really difficult. Hormonal changes that occur in pregnancy make it difficult to predict the best insulin doses for each woman.
“The artificial pancreas automates the insulin delivery giving better glucose control than we can achieve with current available treatments. We are so pleased that this technology is closer to being a reality for women with type 1 diabetes that want to have a child.”
Controlling blood glucose levels is important for those with diabetes, and particularly pregnant women as poor management can lead to complications such as premature birth, large babies, admission to neonatal care units, stillbirth and infant mortality.
One in two babies suffer complications related to type 1 diabetes in the mother, according to national surveys.
Dr Elizabeth Robertson, director of research at Diabetes UK, said: “Artificial pancreas technology has the potential to transform the treatment of type 1 diabetes, and could be particularly pivotal for women during pregnancy who often struggle with managing their blood glucose levels.
“This study represents a real breakthrough in helping women to take control of their condition, and we’re very excited about the direction this research is moving.”
The findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.