An artificial pancreas has shown to result in fewer hypos in women during pregnancy, a small study reports.
Researchers working on behalf of the type 1 diabetes charity JDRF studied how a closed-loop artificial pancreas system affected blood sugar levels in pregnant women with type 1 diabetes.
The artificial pancreas system brings together three key components: a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) to measure glucose levels, an insulin pump to deliver insulin, and a computer programme which makes the decisions on how much insulin to provide depending on the sugar level and other factors.
Within the study, the artificial pancreas was compared to insulin pump therapy in conjunction with a CGM but without the computer-driven decisions. The study involved 16 pregnant women with type 1 diabetes, of whom the average age was 33 years and average diabetes duration was 19 years.
All of the participants spent four weeks using one of the methods (either artificial pancreas or sensor-augmented pump therapy) then used the other method for another four weeks. There was a washout period in-between and the order of the treatment methods were assigned on a random basis.
Overall, all 16 women were found to be in blood sugar range for similar lengths in both treatment arms, but the artificial pancreas led to less hypoglycemia, particularly overnight.
The study team believes the lack of significant improvement in time spent in range could be attributable to the small number of participants or varying levels of familiarity with the technologies.
Both devices were ruled safe to use in pregnancy, but it was the artificial pancreas that most of the participants chose to continue with after the trial.
The researchers now want to continue with their work so they establish whether the artificial pancreas may help reduce diabetes-related complications in newborn babies.
Earlier this month the Medtronic MiniMed 670G hybrid closed-loop insulin pump was shown to be safe for children aged 7-13, while also helping to improve their HbA1c levels and improving time spent in target range.
The findings have been published in the journal Diabetes Care.

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