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Hypoglycemia in the Newborn

What is hypoglycemia in the newborn?

Hypoglycemia is a condition in which the amount of blood glucose (sugar) in the blood is lower than normal.

Who is affected by hypoglycemia in the newborn?

Approximately two out of 1,000 newborn babies have hypoglycemia. Babies who are more likely to develop hypoglycemia include:

What causes hypoglycemia in the newborn?

Hypoglycemia may be caused by conditions that:

Many different conditions may be associated with hypoglycemia in the newborn, including the following:

Why is hypoglycemia in the newborn a concern?

The brain depends on blood glucose as its main source of fuel. Too little glucose can impair the brain's ability to function. Severe or prolonged hypoglycemia may result in seizures and serious brain injury.

What are the symptoms of hypoglycemia in the newborn?

Symptoms of hypoglycemia may not be obvious in newborn babies. The following are the most common symptoms of hypoglycemia. However, each baby may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

The symptoms of hypoglycemia may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your baby's physician for a diagnosis.

How is hypoglycemia in the newborn diagnosed?

A simple blood test for blood glucose levels can diagnose hypoglycemia. Blood may be drawn from a heel stick, with a needle from the baby's arm, or through an umbilical catheter (a tube placed in the baby's umbilical cord). Generally, a baby with low blood glucose levels will need treatment.

Treatment for hypoglycemia in the newborn:

Specific treatment for hypoglycemia will be determined by your baby's physician based on:

Treatment includes giving the baby a rapid-acting source of glucose. This may be as simple as giving a glucose/water mixture or formula as an early feeding. Or, the baby may need glucose given intravenously. The baby's blood glucose levels are closely monitored after treatment to see if the hypoglycemia occurs again.

Prevention of hypoglycemia in the newborn:

There may not be any way to prevent hypoglycemia, only to watch carefully for the symptoms and treat as soon as possible. Mothers with diabetes with blood glucose levels in tight control can help minimize the amount of glucose that goes to the fetus.

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