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Hypoglycemia in Newborns

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.

Feeding not long After Delivery Prevents Low Blood Sugar

Learn about baby’s low blood sugar immediately after delivery.

Newborn hypoglycemia is the condition caused when a new baby doesn’t have enough sugar in their blood. Hypoglycemia means low blood sugar.

It’s normal for a newborn’s blood sugar to go down after delivery. It usually goes back to normal after the child is fed formula or breast milk. If low blood sugar stays that way after a feeding, your baby may need some treatment.

Symptoms

While many babies won’t have any signs of hypoglycemia, others have symptoms, which could include these things:

  • Irritability or crankiness

  • Weak muscles

  • Trembles or shaking

  • Sleepiness

  • Bluish-colored skin, cold-feeling skin, or both of these things

  • Problems with breathing including stopping breathing or fast breathing

  • Seizures

  • Trouble sucking on a bottle or breast (may eat less)

Testing

A blood test can be used to measure how much sugar is in your baby’s blood. Doctors will likely order one if your baby is showing signs of hypoglycemia, or is at a greater risk.

Blood sugar levels are monitored within one to two hours after birth if your baby is at risk for developing hypoglycemia or whenever symptoms are seen. If your baby has an intitial low blood sugar then monitoring is done for the first 12 to 24 hours of life.

Treatment

Every newborn baby needs either formula or breast milk not long after delivery. This can help prevent hypoglycemia.

Some babies are at a greater risk of newborn hypoglycemia than others are. If a child is premature, or the mother has diabetes, the child is at a greater risk. In these cases, a baby needs breast milk or formula within an hour of delivery. Your nurse or doctor will do some blood tests to track the amount of sugar in the blood.

If your baby still has low blood sugar even after a feeding, your doctor may want to give your child a sugary mixture through an IV. This thin tube goes into your child’s vein and gets the sugar into your child’s bloodstream immediately.

A majority of babies will only need to take the sugary mixture for a short time period. If your baby needs it after three or four days, your doctor may want additional tests. Your baby may then require medicine.

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