Approximately about 15% of newborns are suffering from low blood sugar levels called neonatal hypoglycemia in medical terms. And this is the only condition that can be prevented to stop the brain damage in infants. Let us have a look at what causes low blood sugar levels in newborns and how low blood sugar in newborns can be addressed.
What Is Low Blood Sugar In Newborns?
The presence of fewer glucose levels than needed in the body of the newborns is low sugar level. The babies require sugar (energy) for their bodies to function and most of this energy is consumed by the brain and when the brain and body don’t get enough glucose from the sources (mother’s milk & liver)after birth it leads to the low sugar level in them. The normal blood sugar levels in the newborns are between 54 to 72 mg/dl. Any levels higher or lower than these are referred to as low blood sugar levels in newborns or high blood sugar levels in newborns.
What Causes 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 isn’t 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 isn’t getting enough feed (milk) required to meet the glucose needed.
Usually, this condition arises when the glucose level considered safe for the babies isn’t present and 1 out of 3 for 1000 births have this problem.
What Are The Risk Factors That Lead To Low Blood Sugar Levels In Infants?
A baby may acquire a low blood sugar level if he/she has signs of one or more below-mentioned factors;
- Is born early and has a grave infection
- The need for oxygen as soon as delivery
- The mother is a diabetic and in such conditions, infants are larger
- A slow growth rate than normalcy when in the womb
- Are larger or smaller in size than usual for their gestational age
Signs Of Low Blood Sugar In Newborns
Newborns with low blood sugar will usually not show any symptoms or signs. If the baby is born with one of the above risk factors then nurses will check the baby’s blood glucose levels even if symptoms do not persist.
Usually below are the signs to check for;
- Pale or blue-colored skin
- Breathing issues like paused breathing (apnea), grunting sound while breathing and fast breathing
- Listlessness or irritability
- Floppy or lose muscles
- Poor feeding
- Issues in keeping the warmth of the body
- Shakiness, tremors, seizures, and sweating
How To Diagnose Low Blood Sugar In Newborns?
Newborns will have blood tests to know the sugar level for a few hours. A heel stick is used for this. The healthcare professionals will keep continuing the test until the glucose level comes to normal for nearly 12 to 24 hours.
Some other tests may include screening for metabolic disorders and urine tests.
Low Blood Sugar In Newborns Treatment
It will depend on the baby’s overall health and gestational age. Treatment consists of feeding the baby with a fast-acting glucose source. This feed could be just giving water and glucose mixture or a glucose-based formula. At times, the baby may need the administration of glucose through an IV.
Once the sugar levels are normal again they are checked to see discrepancies.
Effects Of Low Blood Sugar In Newborns
Severe or consistent low blood sugar levels could affect the mental functioning of the baby. In rare instances, heart seizure and failure too can happen.
Tips To Prevent Low Blood Sugar In Newborns
In most of the cases, there are no means and treatments to prevent hypoglycemia in newborns. However, for a baby having risk factors, healthcare professionals will need to monitor with caution for the signs and symptoms to treat as quickly as possible.
Mothers who are diabetics should always try to maintain their blood sugar levels in a normal state all through the pregnancy. Doing so could assist in lowering the risk of the baby being born with low sugar levels.
Low blood sugar in newborns has become rampant and the one reason is most of the mothers are diabetics so the solution is to be a healthy pregnant woman first.
Sudheendra is a passionate blogger for 8 years and holds a Degree in Journalism & Mass Communications. His writings particularly focus on health, medicine, diet & lifestyle. For him, everything that interlinks and relates to health & medical world entices him. His write-ups aim at educating people not by just giving facts but by infusing human touch.