Women with type 1 diabetes who used an artificial pancreas while giving birth on average spent 82% of time within target blood sugar range, research suggests.
Two trials by researchers at the University of Cambridge found that women who used the device “took the worry away”, with the device performing well across all births.
The two studies examined the effectiveness of the artificial pancreas, which harnesses technology to replicate the pancreas, during childbirth.
An artificial pancreas comprises of a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) linked to computer software and an insulin pump, which all work together to response to glucose levels by delivering background insulin.
These latest results come from two small studies where women were asked if they wanted to continue to use the artificial pancreas during labour.
A total of 27 women out of a pool of 32 opted to use it, and none of them reported any severe hypos or major difficulties with the technology. Their blood glucose levels stayed in the range for 82% of the time during childbirth and then 83% in the period following the delivery.
Most of the women reported positive experiences. Commenting on the study, one of the participants said: “It just took all the worry away, to be honest.”
Because this was only a small study, larger clinical trials will be need to assess the artificial pancreas during labour and pregnancy, including against a control group of women not using the device.
The benefits though, the researchers say, could be significant. They said: “The rapid reduction in insulin requirements postpartum is difficult to predict and highly variable, so [the artificial pancreas] might be particularly useful in adjusting insulin doses in the postpartum period.”
The researchers have called for future investigations into how women and healthcare providers could adopt the artificial pancreas during pregnancy.
The findings have been published in the journal Diabetes Technology &Therapeutics.

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