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Artificial Pancreas May Free Diabetics

The World Health Organization estimates there are more than 180 million people with diabetes.

The WHO says that number could double in 20 years. Many diabetics must interrupt their activities to monitor their blood sugar levels several times a day and inject insulin when those levels become abnormal, but most diabetics will tell you they would like to find relief from that chore.

Fourteen-year-old Sarah Carlow is a diabetic. It is a fact never far from her mind.

"I check my blood sugar on average maybe 10 or more times a day. I check it before breakfast, lunch and dinner. You have to check your blood sugars while you're playing sports. I also have to count carbohydrates," says Sarah.

By monitoring the carbohydrates in all of the food and drink she consumes, Sarah knows how much insulin to give herself, but recently the teenager was fitted with an artificial pancreas that did the work for her.

Sarah explains, "Not having the every day, every minute, every hour hassle of worrying about my blood sugars, if this comes into play, I can live a life like I did before, which is awesome [wonderful].”

Sarah was one of 17 teenagers with type one diabetes who were fitted with the artificial pancreas at Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital.

The device uses a sensor to monitor the glucose and a pump which distributes the correct amount of insulin needed.

Dr. Stuart Weinzimer of Yale-New Haven Children's Hospital says the artificial pancreas has wide potential for other diabetics.

Dr. Weinzimer explains, "It would potentially benefit anyone with diabetes, type one or type two, anybody who requires insulin."

Researchers say as a precaution the insulin was dispensed only with a doctor's approval.

But the artificial pancreas was found to maintain appropriate blood glucose levels for up to 16 hours.

It kept on pumping throughout exercise, meal time, even long after it was time to turn off the light.

Scientists plan less controlled studies on patients outside the hospital setting.