What Causes Low Sugar In Newborns

Regular Blood Sugar Check For Newborns

Neonatal Hypoglycemia Causes, Treatment & Prevention

Generally, healthy full-term babies do not need to blood sugar checks. Their bodies have enough glucose stored in their liver for energy. It lasts until the newborn starts break feeding well. Some babies who need routine blood sugar checks are:

  • Babies who are small or large for their gestational age
  • Babies with rare medical conditions
  • Premature babies born more than three weeks before their expected due date
  • Babies whose mothers have either pre-existing diabetes or develop gestational diabetes
  • Monitoring blood sugar levels in those levels helps in the diagnosis of hypoglycemia and immediate treatment.

Blood sugar levels of less than 30 mg/dL in the first 24-hours of birth and less than 45 mg/dL after that for the next three to four days show that your baby has hypoglycemia. Checking Plasma glucose also helps in diagnosing neonatal hypoglycemia. There is a need to do the estimation based on the underlying cause:

  • Preterm and a lesser gestational age infant: 1, 6, 12, 24, 36, 48 hours and third and fourth day.
  • Infant of a diabetic mother: 1, 2, 4, and 6 hours of life.
  • Infants with erythroblastosis fetalis: after the exchange of transfusion with blood intermixed with citrate phosphate dextrose.

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Causes And Risk Factors

Babies get glucose from their mothers through the placenta before they are born. After birth, their sources of glucose are breast milk and formula. Glucose is also produced in the liver. Blood sugar may drop if the baby is not able to eat enough.

Other causes of neonatal low low blood sugar include the baby not producing enough glucose, using too much glucose, or making too much insulin .

Some newborns have certain risk factors that make them more likely to develop neonatal hypoglycemia.

These may include:

Low Blood Sugar In Babies: Signs Symptoms Treatment

Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, during the first 2 72 hours after birth remains one of the most common metabolic conditions for newborns in Canada. Low blood sugar is a disorder that occurs when the body cannot produce enough insulin to regulate glucose in the bloodstream. Glucose levels measure how much sugar is in your blood.

It is common for all babies glucose levels to drop within the first two hours after labour and delivery. However, babies that experience or are at risk for hypoglycemia will have dramatic drops in glucose levels from the normal range. Glucose is essential for brain development and growth in a newborn baby. Treating hypoglycemia in newborns is quite simple and can be done effectively.

When a baby experiences low blood sugar, the body temperature can drop, bluish skin color, and shakiness. Preterm infants are at a higher risk of hypoglycemia because they cannot store as much energy as they need. Preterm infants will use up their glucose faster than they can generate it.

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Neonatal Hypoglycemia Caused By Negligence

Suppose a baby had risk factors for hypoglycemia but testing was not done or testing was not done properly. In that case, there may be cause to investigate for negligence. An infant must have an early diagnosis and swift treatment for low blood sugar. If the condition is left untreated, the baby may suffer from brain damage or an injury.

A brain injury, or damage, caused by hypoglycemia, should be considered by a team of experienced injury legal counsel. There are guidelines established by the Canadian Pediatric Society that can determine if the healthcare professionals neglected to intervene in Canada.

Your Newborn Babys Nhs Number

Neonatal Hypoglycemia: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment and ...

An NHS number is allocated to everyone whose birth is registered with a Registrar of Births and Deaths in England and Wales. You already have an NHS number and your baby will be assigned an NHS number soon after birth. Your NHS number is unique to you and provides a reliable means of linking you to the medical and administrative information we hold about you. NHS numbers are allocated on a random basis and, in themselves, provide no information about the people to whom they relate.

About the Trust

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What Is An Abnormal Blood Sugar Level

The lowest normal blood sugar level for a newborn baby is above 2.6mmol/L. This level of blood sugar is needed for the brain to function properly. It is important for your baby’s level to be increased to the normal range as quickly as possible as untreated low blood sugar can result in brain damage.

Outcomes Of Neonatal Hypoglycemia

Magnetic Resonance Imaging studies have shown that neonatal hypoglycemia can cause brain injury . The most widely reported pattern of acute brain injury is localized in the parietal and occipital regions , which are involved in visual processing. However, the evidence is inconsistent on whether neonatal hypoglycemia is associated with later visual problems . Injury may extend beyond these regions with reports of global or periventricular damage as well as damage to the basal ganglia and thalamic regions .

A systematic review and meta-analysis of six cohort studies with a sample size of 1,675 babies reported that neonatal hypoglycemia was not associated with neurodevelopmental impairment, cognitive or motor deficits between 2 and 5 years of age . However, neonatal hypoglycemia was associated with a 3-fold increased risk of visual-motor impairment and executive dysfunction at 4 years of age. These risks were heightened for children who had experienced severe, recurrent or clinically undetected neonatal hypoglycemia . In older children, limited data showed that neonatal hypoglycemia was associated with more than a 3-fold increased risk of neurodevelopmental impairment at 611 years of age, and a 2-fold increase in low numeracy and literacy . No studies reported on outcomes for adolescents.

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Pathophysiology Of Neonatal Hypoglycemia

Glucose is the primary metabolic fuel for the fetus. The fetus receives glucose from its mother through carrier-mediated diffusion down a concentration gradient across the placenta . Fetal glucose concentrations are ~80% of maternal concentrations and fluctuate with changes in maternal glucose concentrations . The function of insulin in the fetus is as a growth hormone rather than to regulate glucose concentrations, and secretion of insulin occurs at a lower glucose concentration in the fetus than in postnatal life .

Maternal and therefore fetal glucose concentrations increase during labor and delivery in response to secretion of maternal stress hormones such as catecholamines and glucocorticoids . Once the umbilical cord is clamped, glucose supply is interrupted and neonatal glucose concentrations decrease, reaching a low point ~12 h after birth. In turn, insulin secretion decreases while secretion of counter-regulatory hormones such as glucagon and catecholamines increases, stimulating gluconeogenesis and glycogenolysis, and resulting in a gradual increase in glucose concentrations . However, these do not reach adult concentrations until after 72 h of age . Delay or interruption of this postnatal metabolic adaptation results in neonatal hypoglycemia.

What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Hypoglycemia

Information for parents whose baby may be at risk of low blood sugars

Mild hypoglycemia can cause such symptoms as:

  • shakiness

Severe hypoglycemia can also cause these symptoms:

  • confusion
  • seizures
  • not responding or waking up

Teach your child about the symptoms of low blood sugar and what to do. Even young kids who can’t describe their symptoms can learn to tell an adult when they don’t feel well. Help your child understand that they need treatment when they dont feel well. And explain how to find an adult who can help them.

Some people with diabetes can’t sense the early warning signs of low blood sugar. They may not recognize they need quick treatment. This can lead to more serious symptoms as blood sugar levels continue to fall. If you think your child cant sense what low blood sugar feels like, tell the diabetes care team.

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Treatment Of Neonatal Hypoglycemia

  • IV dextrose

  • Enteral feeding

  • Sometimes IM glucagon

Most high-risk neonates are treated preventively. For example, infants of diabetic women who have been using insulin are often started at birth on a 10% D/W infusion IV or given oral glucose, as are those who are sick, are extremely premature, or have respiratory distress. Other at-risk neonates who are not sick should be started on early, frequent formula feedings to provide carbohydrates.

Any neonate whose glucose falls to 50 mg/dL should begin prompt treatment with enteral feeding or with an IV infusion of up to 12.5% D/W, 2 mL/kg over 10 minutes higher concentrations of dextrose can be infused if necessary through a central catheter. The infusion should then continue at a rate that provides 4 to 8 mg/kg/minute of glucose . Serum glucose levels must be monitored to guide adjustments in the infusion rate. Once the neonates condition has improved, enteral feedings can gradually replace the IV infusion while the glucose concentration continues to be monitored. IV dextrose infusion should always be tapered, because sudden discontinuation can cause hypoglycemia.

What Are The Treatment Options For Hypoglycemia

Children with hypoglycemia have different symptoms, and these vary from one child to another. But no matter what your childs symptoms, the overriding goal is the same to bring the blood sugar back up to normal as rapidly as possible and return your child to good health.

Most often, your childs blood sugar can be brought back up to normal by eating or drinking something that has sugar in it, such as fruit juice, regular soda, table sugar, maple syrup, candy, glucose tablets, glucose gel, or cake frosting. Consider encouraging your child to:

  • eat regular meals throughout the day
  • eat frequent snacks

For children with diabetes, the goal is to consistently maintain a blood sugar level that is in a healthy range. This involves testing blood sugar often, learning to recognize the earliest symptoms of low blood sugar, and treating the condition quickly, based on instructions given by your child’s healthcare providers.

If your child has recurrent or severe hypoglycemia, the first thing is to determine the cause, because different causes have different treatments. While the cause is determined, some children will receive glucose intravenously in the hospital to make sure their blood-sugar level stays normal.

Some causes of hypoglycemia can be treated with changes in your childs diet or medication. For some rare cases of severe hypoglycemia that dont respond to medical treatment, the doctor may recommend surgery to remove most of the pancreas.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Hypoglycemia In A Newborn Baby

Signs of low blood sugar may not be obvious in newborn babies. The most common signs include:

  • Shakiness
  • Blue tint to skin and lips
  • Stopping breathing
  • Floppy muscles
  • Not interested in feeding
  • Lack of movement and energy
  • Seizures

The signs of hypoglycemia can be like other health conditions. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

What Causes Low Blood Sugar In Newborns

Treating Low Blood Sugar in Newborns

After birth, the energy i.e. the glucose or sugar needed for the brain and body are generally received through breastfeeding and self-production of the liver in babies. But chances are the blood sugar may drop for many varied reasons such as

  • The presence of high insulin in blood and insulin pulls sugar from the body leading to less glucose.
  • The infant isnt secreting the required amount of it.
  • The body and the brain of the baby is consuming more glucose in comparison to the production.
  • The baby isnt getting enough feed required to meet the glucose needed.

Usually, this condition arises when the glucose level considered safe for the babies isnt present and 1 out of 3 for 1000 births have this problem.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Hypoglycemia In The Newborn

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

  • Cyanosis
  • Lethargy
  • Seizures

Since the symptoms of hypoglycemia may resemble other conditions or medical problems, it is advisable to consult your baby’s physician for a diagnosis.

Drug Treatment For Hypoglycemia In Newborns

The early treatment of low blood sugar levels in newborns prevents the complications of neurologic damage. Feeding the newborn with breast milk or formula is encouraged to avoid hypoglycemia. The doctors use a nasogastric tube in newborns who are unable to drink breast milk or formula. Many newborns cannot protect their airways or are unable to drink milk. Drugs like dextrose, diazoxide, glucagon, and octreotide are administered to them with the help of IV, nasogastric tube, intramuscular, or intraosseous routes.

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Do All Newborn Babies Need Blood Glucose Checks

Healthy full-term babies do not need blood glucose checks. They have enough stored energy to last them until breastfeeding is going well. Babies who are not well will need blood glucose checks and other tests.

Some babies are more at risk for low blood glucose. Babies who need routine glucose checks include:

  • Preterm babies born more than 3 weeks before they are due .
  • Babies who are small for their gestational age , particularly if their growth was poor in the last few weeks of pregnancy.
  • Babies whose mothers had diabetes during or before pregnancy.
  • Babies who are large for their gestational age.
  • Babies with rare medical conditions that cause low blood glucose.

Low Blood Sugar In Newborns

Stabilising low blood sugar in infancy prevents brain damage in long term: Study

Wondering what causes low blood sugar in newborns? Scroll down to find out details on the causes, symptoms and treatment of hypoglycemia in newborns.

Wondering what causes low blood sugar in newborns? Scroll down to find out details on the causes, symptoms and treatment of hypoglycemia in newborns.

Blood glucose, which is also called blood sugar, refers to the amount of glucose present in the blood. Glucose is the main source of energy for the cells of the body. Glucose is mainly synthesized from carbohydrates and the amount of glucose in blood is regulated by insulin. When the blood sugar levels are lower than normal, one is diagnosed with hypoglycemia. This condition can affect children as well as adults.

Newborns can also develop low blood sugar levels. Low blood sugar in newborns is medically referred to as neonatal hypoglycemia. In case of newborns, the bodys requirements for glucose is fulfilled from lactose present in milk. Though blood sugar levels can fluctuate, especially a few hours after birth, some infants may be susceptible to hypoglycemia due to other factors. Scroll down to learn about the causes, risk factors, symptoms and the treatment of hypoglycemia in newborns.

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Incidence And Risk Factors

The incidence of neonatal hypoglycemia varies between studies depending on the diagnostic threshold, the glucose screening protocol and measurement method used, and the population studied . However, the incidence of transient neonatal hypoglycemia is estimated to be 515% of newborns , and in at-risk babies, it approximates 50% . Babies with multiple risk factors do not have a higher incidence but may experience more severe hypoglycemia.

Table 1. Risk factors for neonatal hypoglycemia.

Diagnosis Of Neonatal Hypoglycemia

  • Serum or plasma glucose levels

  • Serum insulin

  • Urine: Obtain a first-voided urine dipstick for ketones send urine for organic acid analysis

  • Screening for metabolic errors: Electrospray ionization-tandem mass spectrometry in asymptomatic persons allows earlier identification of clearly defined inborn errors of metabolism, including aminoacidemias, urea cycle disorders, organic acidurias, and fatty acid oxidation disorders


The detection of adenomas by celiac angiography has had limited success. The chance of detecting a tumor blush must be balanced against the potential risk of causing vascular trauma in infants younger than 2 years.

See Workup for more detail.

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Clinical Aspects Of Neonatal Hypoglycemia: A Mini Review

  • Liggins Institute, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

Introduction: Neonatal hypoglycemia is common and a preventable cause of brain damage. The goal of management is to prevent or minimize brain injury. The purpose of this mini review is to summarize recent advances and current thinking around clinical aspects of transient neonatal hypoglycemia.

Results: The groups of babies at highest risk of hypoglycemia are well defined. However, the optimal frequency and duration of screening for hypoglycemia, as well as the threshold at which treatment would prevent brain injury, remains uncertain. Continuous interstitial glucose monitoring in a research setting provides useful information about glycemic control, including the duration, frequency, and severity of hypoglycemia. However, it remains unknown whether continuous monitoring is associated with clinical benefits or harms. Oral dextrose gel is increasingly being recommended as a first-line treatment for neonatal hypoglycemia. There is some evidence that even transient and clinically undetected episodes of neonatal hypoglycemia are associated with adverse sequelae, suggesting that prophylaxis should also be considered. Mild transient hypoglycemia is not associated with neurodevelopmental impairment at preschool ages, but is associated with low visual motor and executive function, and with neurodevelopmental impairment and poor literacy and mathematics achievement in later childhood.

Treatment For Hypoglycemia In The Newborn:

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The immediate treatment for hypoglycemia is giving the baby a rapid-acting source of glucose such as mixture of glucose/water or formula as an early feeding if baby is able to take by mouth. If baby is not responding and has seizures IV fluids containing glucose is the best choice to raise the blood glucose quickly. This will be followed by monitoring the blood glucose closely to see if hypoglycemia recurs again.

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

  • Detailed medical history, complete physical exam and initial lab testing. Baby may need more extensive testing to figure out the exact cause of the hypoglycemia. Sometimes an elective fast may be discussed with you as an option in the hospital settings to reach the correct diagnosis.

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