An international research team have found that using a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) in pregnant women with Type 1 diabetes could help to manage the condition and improve the health of the baby.
In the study, researchers compared an implanted CGM device (that reports on glucose levels 288 times a day), to a standard way of measuring blood glucose levels (4-8 times a day with a finger prick test).
Women who used CGM spent more time with their blood glucose levels within a safe range. CGM also reduced the number of babies born larger than average, the number of babies admitted to intensive care for more than 24 hours, and those born with low blood glucose levels.
Diabetes management in pregnancy
Managing Type 1 diabetes during pregnancy can be challenging and women can face an increased risk of complications for both themselves and their baby.
National surveys show that one in two babies suffer complications related to the mother having Type 1 diabetes. Despite the improvement in diabetes care, this hasn’t changed in the past three to four decades.
This study suggests that CGM technology may bring about change. CGM is a small device worn under the skin. It measures blood glucose levels continuously through the day and night, allowing users to see trends and giving alerts when blood glucose levels are too high or too low.
Global effort to change the lives of women with Type 1
This research represents a global effort to change the lives of women with Type 1 diabetes. The trial took place in 31 hospitals across six countries, including the UK.
The authors believe that CGM should be offered to all pregnant women with Type 1 diabetes to improve their diabetes management during pregnancy and the health of their babies.
“For a long time there has been limited progress in improving birth outcomes for women with Type 1 diabetes, so we’re pleased that our study offers a new option to help pregnant women with diabetes and their children,” says author Dr Denice Feig, University of Toronto and Sinai Health System, Canada.
More work ahead
Although CGM was beneficial, there is more work to be done. The researchers noted that some babies were still born larger than usual, and women using CGM contacted their doctor more often regarding problems with the monitor and for advice.
Dr Emily Burns, Acting Head of Research Communications at Diabetes UK, said:
“It is important we find new ways to help pregnant women with Type 1 diabetes keep their blood glucose levels within a safe range. These exciting results suggest continuous glucose monitors could be the answer, although more research is still needed”
“We would recommend that anyone with Type 1 diabetes who is planning to get pregnant speak to their healthcare professional to get the help and support they need.”
The study involved 214 pregnant women with Type 1 diabetes aged 18-40, who managed their condition using insulin pumps or insulin injections. Half of the participants used the CGM device, while the other half used the traditional finger prick test. Women using CGM wore the device from week 10-12 of their pregnancy until giving birth.
For more information, please call Diabetes UK's press team on 020 7424 1165 or email firstname.lastname@example.org