Women who suffer from gestational diabetes during pregnancy may no longer need to prick themselves with shots of insulin. They can now use an expensive insulin pump rented out by a hospital.
"The insulin pump, which has been in use in India since the last 10 years, has not yet been used by pregnant women. There is a reason for this. Gestational diabetes, which occurs in pregnant women, usually subsides after delivery. Hence, most patients do not want to buy a Rs.2 lakh insulin pump for just nine months," explained Dr. S.K. Wangnoo, senior consultant endrocrinologist and diabetologist at Apollo Hospitals, at a press conference here Wednesday.
"We at Apollo decided to give the machine on rent as part of a pilot project. We have enrolled 12 patients in the last six months as part of the project. They used the pump and did not have any complications," he added.
The cause of gestational diabetes is the same as Type II diabetes. Pregnancy itself is an insulin-resistant condition as the hormones produced during pregnancy oppose the action of insulin. Pregnant women who are obese or who have a history of abortions are prone to gestational diabetes.
"Out of an estimated 62.4 million diabetics in India, four to 21 per cent suffer from gestational diabetes. It usually occurs between the 22nd and 24th week of pregnancy and the patient has to be given insulin four times a day. Her blood sugar has to be monitored six to eight times in a day," explained Wangnoo.
"The insulin pump is a non-invasive, pager-sized device which is operated by an alkaline battery. It consists of a soft teflon canula (tube), one end of which is connected to the body (usually the abdomen) and the other end to an insulin reservoir. The reservoir is to be changed every three days. The whole device functions like artificial pancreas, delivering insulin to the body," said Megha Gupta, an Apollo Hospitals employee.
"Right now, a patient can rent the device for Rs.7,500," said Gupta.
Doctors also noted that gestational diabetes, which usually subsides in most women after delivery can convert into full-blown Type II diabetes in some cases.
"We recently checked glucose intolerance at six weeks after delivery in patients who had shown gestational diabetes during pregnancy. Out of 40 women, four showed full-blown Type II diabetes," said an endrocinologist at Apollo Hospitals.