Hypoglycemia in a Newborn Baby

What is hypoglycemia in a newborn baby? Hypoglycemia is when the level of sugar (glucose) in the blood is too low. Glucose is the main source of fuel for the brain and the body. In a newborn baby, low blood sugar can happen for many reasons. It can cause problems such as shakiness, blue tint to the skin, and breathing and feeding problems.

What causes hypoglycemia in a newborn baby?

    Hypoglycemia can be caused by conditions such as:

  • Poor nutrition for the mother during pregnancy
  • Making too much insulin because the mother has poorly controlled diabetes
  • Incompatible blood types of mother and baby (severe hemolytic disease of the newborn)
  • Birth defects
  • Congenital metabolic diseases
  • Not enough oxygen at birth (birth asphyxia)
  • Liver disease
  • Infection

Which newborns are at risk for hypoglycemia?

    Babies are more likely to have hypoglycemia include:

  • Babies born to mothers with diabetes
  • Babies who are small for gestational age or growth-restricted
  • Preterm babies, especially those with low birth weights
  • Babies born under significant stress
  • Babies with mothers treated with certain medicines such as terbutaline
  • Babies who are large for their gestational age

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 (cyanosis)
  • Stopping breathing (apnea)
  • Low body temperature (hypothermia)
  • Floppy muscles (poor muscle tone)
  • Not interested in feeding
  • Lack of movement and energy (lethargy)
  • Seizures
  • The signs of hypoglycemia can be like other health conditions. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

How is hypoglycemia in a newborn baby diagnosed?A simple blood test for blood glucose levels can diagnose the problem.

How is hypoglycemia in a newborn baby treated?Treatment will depend on your baby's gestational age and overall health. Treatment includes giving the baby a fast-acting source of glucose. This may be as simple as a glucose and water mixture or formula as an early feeding. Or your baby may need glucose given through an IV. The baby's blood glucose levels are checked after treatment to see if the hypoglycemia occurs again.

What are possible complications of hypoglycemia in a newborn baby? The brain needs blood glucose to function. Not enough glucose can harm the brain's ability to function. Severe or long-lasting hypoglycemia may cause seizures and serious brain injury.

Can hypoglycemia in a newborn baby be prevented? In many cases, there may not be a way to prevent hypoglycemia in a newborn baby. For a baby with risk factors, healthcare providers will need to watch carefully for the signs and treat as soon as possible. Mothers with diabetes should keep their blood glucose levels in a normal range during pregnancy. This may help lower the risk for their baby.

When should I call my child's healthcare provider? Call your baby's healthcare provider right away you see signs of low blood sugar in your baby. Give your baby formula or a glucose and water mixture, if advised.

    Key points about hypoglycemia in a newborn baby

  • Hypoglycemia is a condition in which the level of glucose in the blood is lower than normal.
  • A baby is at risk if he or she has a mother with diabetes, is preterm, or is large.
  • If your baby has signs of hypoglycemia, give him or her formula or glucose and water mixture.

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MD (Paediatrics),
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Dr Gagan Mahajan

NICU Facilities for :

    We treat newborns at every stage of development: premature, near-term and full-term. Neonatology is focused on newborns with complex medical issues, including:

  • Premature birth: The NICU is a life-saving resource for babies born before term. When a baby is born before 37 weeks of gestation, the internal organs are not quite ready to support life outside the womb.
  • Low birth weight: babies born under 2,500 grams are at risk for health problems, some of which can extend into later years.
  • Failure to thrive: a complex set of circumstances—the baby doesn't grow and gain weight normally. The NICU is equipped to increase the baby's chances of getting a good start on growth and weight gain.
  • Medical problems of the digestive system, heart, lungs, urinary tract and other major organ systems
  • Infection
  • Jaundice, nutritional problems and low blood sugar
  • Respiratory problems like Transient Tachypnea of Newborn, Respiratory distress syndrome, congenital pneumonia, Aspiration syndromes etc
  • Neurological problems: such as seizures, meningitis, developmental delay and movement disorders, including cerebral palsy, spasticity and dystonia
  • We manage such babies following latest evidence based guidelines and protocols

Dr. Gagan Mahajan

MD Pediatrics, DM Neonatology

Dr Gagan Mahajan did his MD Pediatrics from IGMC, Shimla and DM Neonatology from PGIMER Chandigarh. He got opportunity to be trained under eminent Pediatricians like Dr. R K Kaushal, Dr. V K Sharma, Dr. Neelam Grover and eminent Neonatologists of India like Dr. Praveen Kumar, Dr. Sourabh Datta, Dr. Kanya Mukhopadhyay, Dr. Venkataseshan and Dr. Shiv Sajan Saini.

His area of special interests includes care of extremely premature babies, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), conventional and high frequency ventilation with special interest is brain oriented care and intact survival of premature and growth restricted newborns.

He is passionate about improving quality of health care and strongly believes in practicing evidence-based medicine while compassionately involving parents in the care of their infant. He also has a breadth of knowledge and experience in all areas of Paediatrics.

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My daughter was born with a birth weight of 590 grams and stayed in NICU for 2 months. I had full confidence on Dr Gagan and his team and my baby was finally discharged with a weight of 1320 grams. He answered all our queries and explained everything to us in simple language.

ARTI (from Chanidgarh)

My daughter was born at 26 weeks gestation and had birth weight of 890 grams only. Dr Gagan Mahajan and his team not only managed my baby well but also allayed all our anxieties. His positive attitude while handling our baby helped us a lot during that stressful period. Now my daughter is 1 year old and is absolutely fine.

Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your child's health care provider:

  • Before your visit, write down questions you want answered.
  • At the visit, write down the names of new medicines, treatments, or tests, and any new instructions your provider gives you for your child.
  • If your child has a follow-up appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose for that visit.
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