Knapton diabetic mum ‘thrilled’ following world-first birth using artificial pancreas

Catriona Finlayson-Wilkins with baby Euan. PIC: Emma Jones

Catriona Finlayson-Wilkins with baby Euan. PIC: Emma Jones - Credit: Archant

A diabetic north Norfolk mother has become the first woman in the world to give birth naturally after using an artifical pancreas to produce insulin during her pregnancy.

Catriona Finlayson-Wilkins with a body-painted baby bump. PIC: Submitted.

Catriona Finlayson-Wilkins with a body-painted baby bump. PIC: Submitted. - Credit: Archant

Catriona Finlayson-Wilkins, 41, who has Type 1 Diabetes, gave birth to baby Euan at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital having used the cutting edge technology.

Baby Euan, Ms Finlayson-Wilkins' second child, weighed 8lb 14oz when he was born at 6.45am on Tuesday morning.

The birth meant Ms Finlayson-Wilkins, a professional face and body painter from Knapton is also the first mum using the device to give birth outside the main research site at Cambridge University Hospitals. Three other mothers have previously given birth, but these were via caesarian section.

Speaking from hospital, where she remained last night, Ms Finlayson-Wilkins, a multi-award-winning artist, said: 'I'm thrilled its a huge weight off your mind after being pregnant and diabetic which is really risky and I really did want another child. It's lovely.'

It is the third time Ms Finlayson-Wilkins, who lives with her partner Peter Wilkins and son Finley, six, has been pregnant, having previously lost a child following the birth of her first son and she said the technology helped her through the last few months.

She said: 'It's the most amazing piece of kit and I can really see how it's going to benefit all types of people with diabetes in the future.

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'When I was pregnant I kept dropping and this thing warns you that you need to eat something - it's a life-changing piece of kit.'

Ms Finlayson-Wilkins, who once worked as an artist at Horning-based attraction Bewilderwood, is renowned for her face and body art but she was also responsible for the artwork on two of the gorillas on the hugely successful Go Go Gorillas trail which attracted thousands of people into Norwich in 2013.

She painted Sea Monkey, which was located at Pulls Ferry in Norwich and Jungle Jim which could be seen on Fye Bridge and has been at it again this year having worked on a couple of dragons which will be seen on the Go Go Dragons trail in the city this summer - including the James Bond beast.

Dr Helen Murphy, principal investigator of the study which Ms Finlayson-Wilkins participated in, said that the new arrival represented an exciting step forward in the treatment of diabetes in pregnancy.

'Diabetes is the most common medical condition in pregnancy. Women who have diabetes in pregnancy face higher rates of birth defects, oversized babies, preterm delivery and stillbirth than other pregnant women.

'Treating diabetes in pregnancy can be particularly challenging because hormone levels are constantly changing and blood sugars can be difficult to predict.

'The artificial pancreas is an exciting new technology that may help us to treat diabetes in pregnancy and create a group of healthier mothers and babies.

'We are pleased to partner with Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital to be able to conduct this exciting research,' she said.

The NIHR's Closed Loop in Pregnancy study, under which this technology is being tested, is ongoing and its results are expected to be published later this year.

If the findings are positive, this may pave the way for this technology to become available for more women with diabetes who conceive in the future.

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