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World’s first natural birth to mother with artificial pancreas

Norwich University Hospital has announced the birth of the world’s first baby born naturally to a mother who used an artificial pancreas to manage her type 1 diabetes throughout the pregnancy.

Norwich University Hospital has announced the birth of the world’s first baby born naturally to a mother who used an artificial pancreas to manage her type 1 diabetes throughout the pregnancy.

Catriona Finlayson-Wilkins, who gave birth to baby Euan, is also the first mother using the experimental device to give birth outside of the main research site at Cambridge University. Three women have previously given birth whilst using the device, but the deliveries were all by caesarean section.

The artificial pancreas is worn externally on the body and is made up of three functional components: a continuous glucose monitoring system, a computer algorithm (mathematical instructions which calculate the insulin dose) and an insulin pump. These three components are termed an artificial pancreas or “closed loop”, although glucagon administration – the other key component of a true bionic pancreas – is not incorporated. The device is currently being evaluated in the National Institute for Health Research’s CLIP (Closed Loop in Pregnancy) study, the full results of which are expected to be published this year.

Dr Helen Murphy, lead investigator of the study, said: “Diabetes is the most common medical condition in pregnancy. Women who have diabetes in pregnancy face higher rates of birth defects, oversized babies, preterm delivery and stillbirth than other pregnant women.

“Treating diabetes in pregnancy can be particularly challenging because hormone levels are constantly changing and blood sugars can be difficult to predict. The artificial pancreas is an exciting new technology that may help us to treat diabetes in pregnancy and create a group of healthier mothers and babies.”

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