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Artificial Pancreas Tested in Pregnant Women with Type 1 Diabetes

February 22, 2011

Nearly 40 years ago, women with type 1 diabetes were advised to not become pregnant, because of the risks to them and their babies. But as significant research over the years has shown the benefits of tight glucose control – along with the advent of better tools and technology – women with type 1 diabetes can now have healthy and successful pregnancies as long as proper diabetes management and monitoring are factored into their prenatal care.

Building on this research progress, a new study on the artificial pancreas conducted by researchers at Cambridge University demonstrated that the technology successfully maintained normal blood sugar levels in 10 pregnant women with type 1 diabetes. While the study was conducted in a small group of patients, the results reveal the potential of an artificial pancreas for all people with type 1 diabetes, including pregnant women.

Hormonal changes in the body during pregnancy make it very difficult for women with type 1 diabetes to keep blood sugar levels within target range. This results in frequent fluctuations in blood sugar levels, causing low blood sugar (or hypoglycemia) – which can be very dangerous and even fatal for women and their baby – or high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) which increases the risk of developing complications during pregnancy. High blood sugar levels increase the risk of miscarriages, stillbirths, and the delivery of large babies.

An artificial pancreas can essentially help address this common problem for pregnant women with type 1 diabetes. By enabling a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) and an insulin pump to communicate with each other how much insulin to deliver in the body at the right amounts, the device can help maintain tight blood glucose control, allowing a safe and healthy delivery.

The next steps are to continue studies in larger settings to demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of artificial pancreas technologies in pregnant women and other diabetes patient populations. Of equal importance, and to help people realize the tremendous potential these tools hold, these studies also need to move outside of hospital settings and into homes. Since the launch of JDRF’s Artificial Pancreas Project in 2005, JDRF has been working closely with the FDA to ensure that artificial pancreas studies advance safely and efficiently and eventually lead to the development of commercially-viable products that can reach individuals living with type 1 diabetes.

To view the article online, visit the JDRF Juvenation website.

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To learn more about the JDRF Dallas chapter, visit our JDRF Dallas website!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. February 22, 2011 1:28 pm

    Amazing stuff! Thought you may know of someone …if you know a Mommy in need holla!

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