An artificial pancreas can dramatically reduce the risks of pregnancy for women with Type 1 diabetes, British researchers say. Self-management of insulin levels can be very difficult because physiological and hormonal changes make the safe range for blood sugar levels much narrower—in fact, pregnant diabetics' levels fall outside what is recommended about 10 hours each day. The researchers fitted 10 women with a device that monitored their blood sugar levels and fed that information to a computer that controlled an insulin pump, the BBC reports.
Early results showed that normal sugar levels were maintained, and researchers say use of the device could save mothers' lives and improve babies' health. "Half of all babies born to mothers with Type 1 diabetes are overweight or obese at birth because of too much sugar in the blood," the lead researcher says. "So to discover an artificial pancreas can help maintain near-normal glucose levels in these women is very promising." They hope to begin at-home trials later this year.
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