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Sensors on Insulin Pumps Could Reduce the Number of Severe Hypoglycemic Events

Update Date: Sep 25, 2013 12:25 PM EDT

People who are afflicted with the autoimmune disorder, type 1 diabetes, have to be very careful about their sugar intake. When diabetics lose control of their blood sugar levels, it could lead to a potentially fatal condition called hypoglycemia. Due to the dangers involved for type 1 diabetics, a new study tested the effects of a sensor-augmented pump therapy that will administer insulin or prohibit it automatically based on the body's needs. The researchers believe that this automated device could reduce the number of severe hypoglycemic events for diabetics.

"Hypoglycemia is a major problem in diabetes treatment. The aim of the trial was to test whether a new type of insulin pump reduces life-threatening hypoglycemic events in patients with type 1 diabetes," said study senior author Dr. Timothy Jones reported by WebMD. "We found, in a randomized trial, that this technology was able to prevent severe hypoglycemia. We don't like to be dramatic, but this may save lives, and certainly will improve quality of life and diabetes control."

For this study, the researchers from the Princess Margaret Hospital for Children in Perth, Australia recruited 95 patients with type 1 diabetes. The patients were an average of 19-years-old and entered the experiment from December 2009 to January 2012. The diabetics were also prone to impaired awareness if they suffered from a hypoglycemic event. Impaired awareness affects around one-third of the people with type 1 diabetes. The teenagers were randomly divided into two groups. The first group composed of 49 people received the standard insulin pump. The second group of 46 people was given the low-glucose triggered automated insulin suspension. Both groups used their devices for half a year.

From this trial, the researchers discovered that patients using the automated device experienced a reduction in the number of severe and moderate hypoglycemia events. The number fell from 175 to 35. For the group using the standard pump, their number of hypoglycemic events fell from 28 to 16.

"These findings suggest that automated insulin suspension can reduce the incidence of hypoglycemic events in those most at risk, that is, those with impaired awareness of hypoglycemia," the authors wrote according to Medical Xpress.

The study was published in JAMA.

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