“Artificial Pancreas” Helps Pregnant Mothers With Diabetes
It's hard enough to be pregnant, but pregnancy with diabetes is especially challenging because it's so difficult to keep blood sugar within a normal range at a time when hormones are surging. All women try their best with the tools that they have, but even so, about half of all babies born to mothers with type 1 diabetes are overweight or obese at birth because of too much sugar in their mothers' blood. Mothers with high blood glucose levels also increase their child's risk of congenital malformation, stillbirth, neonatal death, preterm delivery, and neonatal admission.
A small study out of the Medical Research Laboratories in Cambridge, England, has found that an artificial pancreas might help such mothers. The study monitored 10 women with type 1 diabetes over a 24-hour period during early (12-16 weeks) and late (28-32 weeks) gestation. During the short study, the researchers fitted the women with an insulin pump and a continuous glucose monitor. Every 15 minutes, the CGM data were fed into a computer, which analyzed the data according to an algorithm. Then, apparently, a nurse adjusted the pump infusion rate as directed by the computer.
The researchers, led by Dr. Helen Murphy of Cambridge, found that their version of an artificial pancreas worked well, keeping plasma glucose within target 84 percent of the time in early pregnancy and 100 percent of the time in late pregnancy. They hope to see larger studies performed in the future.
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