#HLWDK Daily Health Tips: Low Blood Sugar In New Born Babies


Q: Hi my cousin gave birth yesterday and baby glucose was below 2 and even today, it’s still fluctuating by below 2. What is it that could help increase thee glucose level?

A: Hi dear, thanks for writing in and congratulations to your cousin.

A baby’s blood sugar level goes down in the first couple of hours after birth. This is normal. As baby feeds, the blood sugar level goes up and by the time it goes down again, your baby is probably already signaling for a feed.
Most healthy babies are able to deal with this variation in blood glucose levels as they will take as much milk as they need to keep their blood sugar level normal. Some babies are however not able to maintain this delicate balance and so low blood sugar is common in:

  • Babies born to diabetic mothers,
  • Babies born, too big or too small
  • Babies born prematurely

What could lead to this?

  • Poor nutrition in the mother during pregnancy
  • Blood incompatibility of baby and mother
  • Birth defects
  • Poor oxygen intake during birth
  • Liver disease
  • Excessive insulin produced in the baby of a diabetic mother
  • Infection
  • Cold stress (exposure to cold)

Why is this is cause for concern? It’s because the brain depends on glucose as a source of energy. If this is lacking, then baby starts to experience seizures and later on, brain damage. Other symptoms of low blood sugar include:

  • Jitteriness
  • Low body temperature
  • Blue colouration of the body
  • Poor feeding
  • Baby could stop breathing

Diagnosis is made by taking a blood sample and treatment is dependent on baby’s age at birth, baby’s overall health and medical history, baby’s tolerance for medication etc. Treatment typically involves giving the baby glucose – either in the form of glucose and water by mouth or through an infusion. Or the paediatrician may recommend feeding the baby. Let your cousin be guided by the paediatrician who will advise on the best course of action based on factors already described above.

All the best!

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