Women with insulin-dependent diabetes may be able to dramatically cut the risks involved with being pregnant by wearing an "artificial pancreas", a study has found.
Pregnant women who have diabetes, which prevents the pancreas from making insulin, are at risk of serious complications. However, research has shown the medical device helps them control blood sugar levels and potentially avert these risks.
Two thirds of women who were diagnosed with diabetes before conception have type 1 diabetes, along with 300,000 UK patients.
The babies of women with type 1 diabetes are five times more likely to be stillborn than those of healthy women and three times more likely to die in the first few months.
The risk of babies suffering major deformities is doubled when women have the condition and low blood sugar is the top complication involved when mothers die during pregnancy.
The device tested in the Diabetes UK-funded study is the size of a mobile phone and can be worn on the hip. It contains an insulin pump and continuous glucose monitor. It gives the patient insulin automatically to maintain safe glucose levels.
Cambridge University's Helen Murphy led the study. She said: "To discover an artificial pancreas can help maintain near-normal glucose levels in these women is very promising."