Diabetes Type 1 is a serious chronic illness that can lead to complications in pregnant women. Women who have Type 1 Diabetes are considered to have high-risk pregnancies and are monitored closely. Now, British scientists from Cambridge University came up with an artificial pancreas. In their trial of 10 pregnant women, this so called "closed-loop insulin delivery system" was shown to maintain almost normal blood glucose levels! Could this artificial pancreas offer hope to many in the future? How did these scientists develop this artificial pancreas? It is a wonderful idea, isn't it? And perhaps even more so when you consider they simply put together two elements of treatment that are already in use by people who suffer a continuous glucose monitor and an insulin pump.
Of course, it sounds like this new artificial pancreas could be useful for many Type 1 Diabetes sufferers. Why the special focus on pregnant patients? People with this type of diabetes are not able to break down sugar, something which can lead to problems ranging from destroyed blood vessels, to organ failure and eventually death. In pregnancy, Type 1 Diabetes is worsened due to hormonal changes. Keeping blood glucose levels within an appropriate range becomes a huge struggle, and particularly during the night. The artificial pancreas "guinea pigs" were shown to have maintained nearly normal blood glucose levels, even at night! That is a great achievement because babies whose mothers have Type 1 Diabetes are five times more likely to be stillborn than those of low-risk mothers, all because of the danger of extremely high blood sugar levels. The director of the charity Diabetes UK said about the trial: "It's a fantastic example of how existing technologies...can be adapted and developed to benefit as many people with diabetes as possible." It is, isn't it? Also see diabetes in pregnancy and screenings to prevent diabetes during and after pregnancy?