Device lowers risk of overnight diabetic seizures

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Getting through the night without a blood sugar test may seem like an impossible reality for many diabetes patients and parents of diabetic children.

But a new device recently tested by Stanford researchers can predict and prevent low blood sugar while sleeping.

The system uses a glucose sensor that’s worn under the skin and an insulin pump that is connected to a computer near the bed. If blood sugar levels drop too low during sleep, the system responds by shutting off insulin delivery until levels begin rising again.

About two-thirds of diabetic seizures, which are caused by severely low blood sugar, happen at night, reports Healthline. Other devices that have been made to help alert diabetics of low blood sugar during sleep have been problematic, as many people slept through the alarms. With the new system, however, the automated shut-off ensures that diabetics are safe.

“A system like this should dramatically decrease diabetics’ risk of having a seizure overnight,” Dr. Bruce Buckingham, professor of pediatric endocrinology at Stanford and co-author of the study, said in a press release. “Patients and parents will be able to have a better night’s sleep, knowing that there is a much lower risk of severe hypoglycemia at night.”

System keeps blood sugar levels within a safe range

In the Stanford study, the system was tested on 45 type 1 diabetics between the ages of 15 and 45. The participants used the system for 42 nights.

On average, the system helped to reduce periods of low blood sugar by 74 percent. Some people did experience small increases in blood sugar levels, but the researchers report that it was within a safe range.

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Buckingham said the system may be a welcome relief for parents who have diabetic children and need to constantly monitor their blood glucose levels.

“A lot of parents whose children have diabetes are getting up night after night at midnight and 3 a.m. to check their children’s blood sugar levels,” he said. “We think this type of system is going to make it much easier for them to feel comfortable about letting their child with diabetes sleep through the night with fewer overnight sugar tests. Parents will be able to get a better night’s sleep, too.”

The researchers plan to do further studies with the system on children between the ages of three and 15.

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