Artificial pancreas helps type 1 diabetes sufferers to give birth

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Around 10% of the UK population has type 1 diabetes, a lifelong condition which requires pretty much constant monitoring and attention. Experts aren’t sure why diabetes occurs, but being unable to produce insulin – an essential hormone which filters blood sugar into cells to provide energy – leaves the body vulnerable to serious complications.

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Living with Type 1 diabetes

Testing blood and calculating the right dose of artificial insulin to take is part of the daily routine for a type 1 diabetic, and in many cases blood sugar levels remain stable, and within the target range. However, changes to the body, such as illness, or pregnancy, can cause disruptions to blood sugar levels which are harder to measure or predict.

The risks of pregnancy

Across the country 50% of babies born to mothers with Type 1 diabetes experience complications, mostly due to difficulties keeping blood sugar levels stable. These range from premature birth, needing specialist neo-natal care after delivery, or being over-sized, to the most tragic of cases in stillbirth or dying within the first few weeks of life.

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The birth of hope

Two clinical trials monitoring the effects of pregnant women with diabetes using an artificial pancreas during pregnancy, with the option of continuing with it whilst giving birth have produced some amazing results. Target blood sugar levels were achieved in over 80% of cases, and all the women involved felt less stressed during the birthing process.

The artificial pancreas may act like a vital organ, but it doesn’t look like one. It is, in fact, a combination of blood sugar monitor and insulin pump. Both are connected to software that figures out how much insulin to release to keep things steady.

What’s the next step?

This is breakthrough research which is set to have a serious impact on women around the world who are living with Type 1 diabetes and what that means. To move forward larger paid clinical trials will be organised by specialist companies such as http://www.trials4us.co.uk/ to provide more key knowledge and compare findings.

Modern technology means women could take part in this early trial without needing to be monitored 24/7. The role of technology means calculating and administering the correct dose of insulin can be done as easily by a phone or tablet app as by a human being!

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