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Artificial Pancreas Helps Type 1 Diabetics During Sleep

Study found device kept blood sugar of children, teens stable longer

THURSDAY, Feb. 4 (HealthDay News) -- New research suggests that young children and teenagers with type 1 diabetes could benefit by using an artificial pancreas device to lower the risk of dangerously low blood sugar levels during sleep and help them control their disease.

The findings, which appear in the Feb. 5 issue of The Lancet, examined use of an artificial pancreas by people aged 5 to 18 in a hospital setting.

The device, which combines blood sugar sensors and insulin pumps, give doses of insulin as needed to patients as they sleep.

Controlling blood sugar at night is a challenge for people with type 1 diabetes. If blood sugar levels drop to dangerously low levels, diabetics can suffer from seizures, coma and even death.

The researchers found that the study participants spent twice as much time during the night at targeted glucose levels when they used the artificial pancreas system compared to when they tried a "manual" approach.

"These studies show that automated systems not only can help people manage diabetes by maintaining good control, they will also improve quality of life for the people with type 1 diabetes and their families by lowering the risk for hypoglycemia," principal investigator Roman Hovorka, of the Institute of Metabolic Science at the University of Cambridge in England, said in a news release from the journal. "These results suggest that closed-loop devices may be able to significantly lower the patient's risk of developing complications later in life by reducing or even overcoming the burden of hypoglycemia."

More information

Get more on type 1 diabetes from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International.

-- Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, news release, Feb. 4, 2010

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