Recently, a British diabetic woman became the world’s first to complete a natural vaginal birth using an artificial pancreas. This new invention is totally a big step forward to all mothers with diabetes.
Theoretically, pregnancy is riskier for women with diabetes of all types. Maternal mortality, birth defect rates, miscarriages and still births are greater than in the healthy population, as is the tendency for delivery difficulties for babies with a higher birth weight.
Diabetes covers a range of conditions where certain cells cannot absorb enough glucose from the blood. In type 1 diabetes, this occurs because of problems with a patient’s pancreatic production of insulin, the chemical that enables the absorption. In type 2, it is because muscle cells cannot receive the insulin signal.
Diabetes means a patient’s blood glucose levels can easily become too high. This in turn leads to faults in the way the body uses hormones to send signals to different organs. This problem is what causes the higher risk of complications in pregnant diabetic women. However, that “oh-so-old” problem of diabetic pregnant moms has now come to an end. Thanks to the Artificial Pancreas Device System!
According to BBC News, the new mother-of-two, Catriona Finlayson-Wilkins, 41, of Knapton, Norfolk has Type 1 diabetes and wore the piece of kit throughout her pregnancy to produce insulin and prevent symptoms of the disease.
An artificial pancreas device system (APDS) is a small portable piece of equipment designed to carry out the function of a healthy pancreas. It helps to control blood glucose levels using digital communication technology to automate insulin delivery. It is worn on the body during pregnancy and has a continuous glucose monitor (CGM), a digital controller and an insulin pump.
Technically, the device uses a sensor embedded beneath the skin to determine blood glucose levels and trends and passes that information to the clinical staff. An external electronic device then uses an algorithm to decide how much insulin is needed and administers it using a pump.
Because the glucose readings come from tissue fluid, they only approximate blood sugar levels and can be inaccurate if the levels are changing quickly. Many of the artificial pancreas algorithms used recently in research could cope with making automatic adjustments to the insulin pump output but would not yet be trusted to do so in all circumstances.
It’s a huge weight off your mind after being pregnant and diabetic, which is really risky. It’s the most amazing piece of kit and I can really see how it’s going to benefit all types of people with diabetes in the future,” said Ms. Wilkins.
The results of the ongoing National Institute for Health Research’s Closed Loop in Pregnancy study are due to be published later this year.
Its findings could mean the technology benefits more pregnant women with diabetes.