why would a newborn have low blood sugar
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 (under 50 mg/dL). Who is affected by hypoglycemia in the newborn? Babies born to diabetic mothers may develop hypoglycemia after delivery when the source of glucose (via the umbilical cord) is gone and the baby's insulin production metabolizes the existing glucose. Small for gestational age or growth-restricted babies may have too few glycogen stores. Premature babies, especially those with low birthweights, who often have limited glycogen stores (sugar stored in the liver) or an immature liver function. Babies born under significant stress. Babies who experience temperature instability (for instance, get cold) or when mothers were treated with certain drugs (for instance,Pterbutaline)
Babies who are large for their gestational age. This is associated with gestational diabetes, but also with forms of congenital hyperinsulinism What causes hypoglycemia in the newborn? Lower the amount of glucose in the bloodstream. Prevent or lessen storage of glucose. Use up glycogen stores (sugar stored in the liver). Inhibit the use of glucose by the body. 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'sPdoctor for a diagnosis. How is hypoglycemia in the newborn diagnosed? A simple blood test for blood glucose levels can diagnose hypoglycemia. Generally, a baby with low blood glucose levels will need treatment. What is the treatment for hypoglycemia in the newborn? Your baby's gestational age, overall health, and medical history Your baby's tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies Treatment includes giving the baby a rapid-acting source of glucose. This may be as simple as giving a glucose and 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. Can hypoglycemia in the newborn be prevented? 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 can help minimize the amount of glucose that stresses the fetus by tightlyPcontrolling their blood glucose levels to maintain them in a normal range. Low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, is the most common metabolic problem in newborns. Numerous maternal and newborn conditions, from mild to life threatening, can cause hypoglycemia by affecting a babyвs ability to maintain a stable blood sugar level.
Early detection and treatment is important to avoid potential immediate and long-term complications. During pregnancy the fetus receives sugar in the form of glucose from the mother via the placenta. The fetus also produces insulin to control its own blood glucose level, potentially in increased amounts if the mother is diabetic. Some glucose is stored in the babyвs liver and muscles late in pregnancy to be available after delivery for energy, according to the Childrenвs Hospital Boston. These stores are rapidly depleted and must be replenished quickly to support the newbornвs energy needs and brain function. The range of newborn blood sugar levels can normally be quite broad, and laboratory measurements are performed mainly to ensure levels are not too low. Although the exact level considered hypoglycemic varies slightly with a babyвs condition and the lab performing the test, a blood glucose level below 40 mg/dL is considered abnormally low, and a level below 20 mg/dL indicates need for aggressive treatment, according to the Stanford School of Medicine. Hypoglycemia affects up to 3 out of every 1,000 newborns and is associated with numerous risk factors, Childrenвs Hospital Boston states. A mother with diabetes, with a serious infection near the time of delivery or who is malnourished increases the babyвs risk of developing low blood sugar. Hypoglycemia also is more likely if the baby is born with a serious infection, hypothyroidism, birth defect or metabolic disorder, or if a baby has experienced abnormal growth during pregnancy, is premature or has suffered oxygen lack during or right after delivery.
All of these conditions interfere in some way with the babyвs ability to store or utilize glucose normally. Hypoglycemic newborns donвt always show symptoms of low blood sugar, which include breathing problems, blue discoloration, weak or jittery movements, poor eating and a low body temperature. If the baby does exhibit symptoms, or has known risk factors for hypoglycemia, blood sugar levels are measured shortly after birth and at regular intervals thereafter for monitoring purposes. A drop of blood is usually obtained from the heel with a small lancet for the test, but an easily accessible vein or a catheter at the site of umbilical cord attachment can also be used. When blood glucose levels drop below 40 mg/dL, the baby should immediately be breast fed or given formula. The glucose level is rechecked after 30 minutes and if still low either additional feeding or intravenous fluids with sugar will be given. A blood glucose level below 20 mg/dL requires immediate IV fluids, according to MedHelp. org. Treatment might be required for a few hours to a week, after which medications or more aggressive therapy could be tried if the hypoglycemia has not resolved. Prolonged or severe hypoglycemia can lead to seizures, brain injury or developmental delays if not properly treated.
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