What is Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar) in New Born Babies

Hypoglycaemia in babies means low blood sugar which is also called as the neonatal hypoglycemia. Blood sugar level in the body of a baby is regulated by the key hormone called insulin, the improper functioning of which may decrease or increase the blood sugar level in baby body. It is called neonatal hypoglycemia when the plasma glucose level in the baby body reached less than 30 mg/dL (or 1.65 mmol/L) during first 24 hours after his/her birth or less than 45 mg/dL (or 2.5 mmol/L) in later life due to the common metabolic disorders in newborn.

Neonatal hypoglycemia for the long term among babies may lead to the neurologic damage causing mental retardation, repeated seizure, brain damage, delay in proper growth and development, personality disorders, irregular cardiovascular functioning and so many severe health disorders. Insulin hormone secreted by the pancreas plays a great role of storing the extra blood glucose in the body and releasing it according to body needs.

Babies Most Vulnerable to Hypoglycemia

New born babies who are more susceptible to have low level glucose are mentioned below:

  • It is very dangerous problem among babies however it can be said normal among some new born babies as it is very possible to go down the normal blood sugar level in first few hours after the birth as baby gets separated from her mother placenta (supplying glucose regularly).
  • Some healthy babies are able to cope it very easily however some weak babies having low weight than normal may face this problem and they need immediate feed to remain healthy.
  • Some babies of diabetic mother (diabetes throughout the pregnancy) are more prone to the risk of hypoglycemia after birth. During gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) mother has higher level of blood sugar, managing which the baby body produces more insulin. This extra insulin level creates problem of lower blood sugar level just after the cut off from the regular glucose supply from mother placenta.
  • Prematurely born babies (baby birth before complete term).
  • New born babies with breathing difficulties.
  • Baby born with some type of infection.
  • Some babies having weight and size more than the gestational age.
  • Babies having excess cold and hypothermic body.
  • Babies having small size or low weight than the gestational age (means growth restricted).
  • Babies born with immature liver functions.
  • New born babies having significant stress due to some health problems like lack of oxygen and mother health disorders.
  • Babies born to mother getting treatment with certain drugs like terbutaline.
  • Babies who received their first feeding after six hours or more after birth.

Symptoms of Hypoglycemia in Babies

Sometimes, new born babies or Infants having low blood sugar level may not develop any marked symptoms however it should be taken care of when any new born baby has one of the following risk factors:

  • Baby having his/her skin lack of tone, bluish or pale colored with loose or floppy muscles after the birth.
  • Baby develops breathing problems including slow or rapid breathing with murmuring sound.
  • He/she feels irritability or lethargy.
  • New born baby is not feeding properly or having vomiting tendency.
  • Baby develops tremors, restlessness, sweating or seizure.
  • Baby having low body temperature means hypothermia.
  • Baby having congestive heart failure.
  • Baby born with headache, mental confusion, concentration problem, staring, visual disturbances, behavioural changes and etc.

Causes of Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar) in Newborn Babies

Some causes of low blood sugar among new born babies after birth are listed below:

  • A baby can develop hypoglycemia if he/she has too much insulin in the blood which needs more glucose from blood.
  • After birth (when baby gets separated from the mother placenta) baby body is not able to produce required amount of glucose.
  • After birth baby needs more glucose than the amount produced by body.
  • Baby has improper feeding ability to manage the glucose level in the body.
  • New born baby already having low glucose level.
  • Baby is infected with serious infections or does not get enough oxygen for normal body functioning after delivery.
  • Baby born to the diabetic mother.
  • Baby with slow growth rate in the mother womb during pregnancy thus having small size and weight.
  • Mother taking inadequate amount of nutrition throughout her pregnancy.
  • Baby suffering from haemolytic disease (means mother and baby has incompatibility of blood types).
  • Baby suffering from liver problem, any birth defect or congenital metabolic disorders.
  • Mother skipping or delaying her meals or eating snacks more often during pregnancy.
  • Mother used to of alcohol or drugs during pregnancy.

Preventive Measures of Hypoglycemia in Newborn Babies

Some of the important and useful preventive measures for the hypoglycemia among new born babies, which should be really taken care of, are discussed below:

  • Parents of newborn babies, prone to the hypoglycemia or having symptoms of low blood sugar level, should go for the blood test in order to know the accurate blood sugar level and continue follow up according to the need and doctors advice.
  • Parents must go for the screening test and urine test of babies for the check up of metabolic disorders.
  • New born babies having symptoms of hypoglycemia should receive extra feedings timely (breast feed or formula feed).
  • New born babies having problem in proper feeding should given intravenous feeding or intravenous sugar solution under the doctor prescription to maintain the blood sugar level until baby become able maintain own.
  • Infants suffering from liver disorders, infections, low weight problem and etc should given proper treatment under the careful watch of doctor.
  • A woman, before getting pregnant, must go for the check up of any health disorder especially diabetes and take proper treatment for the particular problem.
  • Pregnant woman must take timely healthy diet to keep their baby healthy and free of health disorders.
  • A mother must tell doctor about her family and past history for the accurate estimation of inheritable diseases which can be passed to the next generation.