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Glucose is a type of sugar. It is the body’s main source of energy.
Hypoglycemia is when the level of glucose in the blood becomes too low. When blood glucose drops too low, the body does not have enough energy to function properly. Hypoglycemia in infants occurs in babies less than 1 year old.
The body can normally balance the amount of glucose in the blood. The body will release insulin to reduce high levels of glucose in the blood. When blood glucose levels drop too low, the body can release stored glucose. Hypoglycemia occurs when these factors are disrupted.
Situations that can lead to hypoglycemia include:
Newborns can also have hypoglycemia during the first 2 hours after birth. This is often a temporary situation. Your child’s body will adjust soon after birth.
Factors that increase an infant’s risk of hypoglycemia due to low glucose stores include:
Factors that increase an infant’s risk of hypoglycemia due to high insulin include:
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Other factors include:
Factors in the mother that increase a child’s risk of having hypoglycemia include:
Symptoms of hypoglycemia may include:
You will be asked about your baby’s symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Your baby's glucose levels will be checked. This can be done with blood testing.
The doctor will also want to determine the cause of your baby’s hypoglycemia. Tests will be done based on the suspected cause. They may include blood tests, scans to create images of organs, or genetic testing.
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for your baby. Treatment will focus on increasing the glucose in your baby’s blood. Underlying issues may also need to be treated. Options include:
Frequent feedings may help raise blood glucose levels in infants. Infants may also be given a glucose mixture with feedings or by IV. This may be done until the infant’s blood glucose level is stable.
Medication is usually not needed for hypoglycemia alone. It may be given to treat underlying conditions. Some medications can lower the release of insulin or encourage the liver to release more glucose.
To prevent hypoglycemia in infants:
Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics
Kids Health—Nemours Foundation
Caring for Kids—Canadian Paediatric Society
Causes of high blood glucose and low blood glucose. Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics website. Available at: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/chronic/Pages/Causes-of-High-Blood-Glucose-and-Low-Blood-Glucose.aspx. Updated November 21, 2015. Accessed September 25, 2017.
Hypoglycemia and low blood sugar. Boston Children’s Hospital website. Available at: http://www.childrenshospital.org/az/Site1128/mainpageS1128P1.html. Accessed September 25, 2017.
Hypoglycemia. Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/parent/diabetes_center/diabetes_basics/hypoglycemia.html#a_Treating_Low_Blood_Sugar_Levels. Updated October 2016. Accessed September 25, 2017.
Hypoglycemia in the newborn. Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital website. Available at: http://www.lpch.org/DiseaseHealthInfo/HealthLibrary/diabetes/hyponew.html. Accessed September 25, 2017.
Neonatal hypoglycemia. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114886/Neonatal-hypoglycemia. Updated March 12, 2017. Accessed September 25, 2017.
Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Kari Kassir, MD Last Updated: 9/30/2014