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How to treat low blood sugar in newborns and prevent brain injury?

newbornHypoglycemia (low blood glucose level) at birth can lead to brain injury and intellectual development disabilities.   Therefore when a child  is born with a low level of sugar in his blood, he or her is immediately treated to maintain the blood sugar level above a certain threshold. Treatment usually consists of additional feeding and or oral intravenous glucose. A new study involving more than 404 newborns  shows that not only maintaining a level of sugar above a certain threshold but also keeping it from swinging too high too fast is essential to prevent neurosensory impairments.

During the first 48 hours of their life, all 404 infants were fitted with a device that would read the blood sugar level every 5 minutes. 53% of the infants participating in the study had blood sugar levels below 47 milligrams per deciliters and needed treatment. The rest of them didn’t require treatment.

The blood sugar monitoring device showed that during the first 48 hours of life many infants including those who didn’t need treatment, experience low blood sugar episodes.

At age 2,all 404 children were given a neurosensory test.  researchers found that children who were treated and children who didn’t need treatment fared similarly in the test. However researchers found that neurosensory impairment was more likely at age 2 if infant glucose levels had fluctuated widely or were higher during the first 48 hours after birth.  The study demonstrates that it’s not only important to keep blood glucose levels from dropping too low, but also to keep them from swinging too high, too fast.

Read more on the National Institute of Health website