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Insulin Pumps and Safer Pregnancy

Reviewed by Charlotte E. Grayson Mathis, MD
From the WebMD Archives

Dec. 27, 2001 -- When an expectant woman has diabetes during her pregnancy, the special form of the disease, called gestational diabetes, puts both mom and her baby at risk. Moms can develop high blood pressure or preeclampsia. Their newborns are at risk for lung problems and occasionally die.

To keep blood sugar under control, some women need to take a lot of insulin, especially if they are older or overweight. Now that task may get easier.

Researchers in Australia and New Zealand found that implanted insulin pumps safely and effectively helped women with severe gestational diabetes maintain proper blood sugar levels. In fact, pump therapy controlled hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, better than insulin shots, and none of the moms suffered an episode of low blood sugar. The best news? Their babies' health was comparable to infants born to moms with less-severe gestational diabetes.

The research was published in the December issue of Diabetes Care.

The study was fairly small: 30 women used the implanted pumps out of 251 women with gestational diabetes. But researchers note that such pumps are often used successfully by pregnant women who've had type 1 diabetes since childhood. Now, it appears, there's a second, larger group of women who can benefit from the technology.