Artificial Pancreas Helps Young Children Manage Their Glucose

An artificial pancreas, developed at the University of Virginia’s Center for Diabetes Technology, helped children with type 1 diabetes better control their blood sugar in a pilot study.

The new technology automates glucose regulation by using a reconfigured smartphone that runs advanced algorithms. The phone is wirelessly connected to the glucose monitor and insulin pump worn by the individual, and to a remote monitoring site.

“In addition to automatically regulating the amount of insulin to be delivered, another important benefit of the artificial pancreas is to prevent hypoglycemic events that can have catastrophic consequences and is one of the most threatening situations for children with type 1 diabetes and their parents,” said researcher Daniel R. Chernavvsky, M.D., UVA Center for Diabetes Technology.

The study, involving 12 children 5 to 8 years old, took place at a resort. It compared each child’s level of diabetes control using the artificial pancreas to the control each had with their usual continuous glucose monitor (CGM), and insulin pump. For 68 hours, the children were followed while using the artificial pancreas. Then, for another 68 hours, they were followed while employing their own pump and CGM.

Researchers found that while on the artificial pancreas, the children averaged lower blood-sugar levels. They were more often within their target blood sugar range, and the incidence of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) did not increase.

“The data show that the artificial pancreas, which delivers insulin in an automated way to individuals with Type 1 diabetes, appears to be safe and effective for use in young children age 5-8 years,” says researcher Mark DeBoer, M.D., UVA School of Medicine.

The next step in testing will likely be following young artificial pancreas users for an extended period as they go about their usual home and school routines. Plans are also underway for trials involving people with type 1 diabetes who are 14 years and older.

Source: University of Virginia Today
Photo credit: Susan Lloyd

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