New research, funded by Diabetes UK, has found that use of an artificial pancreas by woman suffering from type 1 diabetes during pregnancy may drastically reduce cases of stillbirth and mortality rates.
Pregnancy poses additional risks for women with diabetes as hormonal changes make it very difficult to keep blood glucose levels within a safe range, especially at night. As a result of high blood glucose levels, babies of women with diabetes are five times as likely to be stillborn, three times as likely to die in their first months of life and twice as likely to have a major deformity. Hypoglycemia in pregnancy is a major cause of maternal mortality. Two in three mothers with pre-existing diabetes have type 1 diabetes.
The study, to be published in the February 2011 issue of ‘Diabetes Care’, evaluated the performance of an artificial pancreas or ‘closed-loop insulin delivery system’ in ten pregnant women with type 1 diabetes. The researchers found the device was able to automatically provide the right amount of insulin at the right time, maintain near normal blood glucose levels and, in turn, prevent nocturnal hypoglycemia in both early and late pregnancy.