Low blood sugar in newborns

Also referred to as neonatal hypoglycemia, low blood sugar in infants generally occurs in the first few days after birth. In every 1000 births, 1 to 3 newborns are diagnosed with this condition. Although it is normal for blood sugar to plunge right after birth, doctors term it neonatal hypoglycemia if the glucose concentration of the body drops below 47 mg/dl and does not improve in the first 24 hours.

Is low blood sugar common in newborns? The answer is YES. Medical conditions can happen in newborns due to their mothers’ underlying health conditions. One of them can be hypoglycemia, which is the most common metabolic issue that newborns experience. This condition can lead to developmental problems and neurological damage when there is no proper treatment. 

Symptoms of neonatal hypoglycemia:

  • Shakiness
  • Tremors
  • Pale or bluish skin
  • Vomiting
  • Low body temperature
  • Weak muscles
  • Low energy
  • Seizures

What causes low blood sugar in newborns?

Low blood sugar in newborns can happen for several reasons.

  • High levels of insulin in newborns’ blood
  • Inadequate production of glucose in newborns
  • Newborns may be using more glucose than what is produced
  • Insufficient nutrition during pregnancy
  • A newborn may have a congenital disability
  • A newborn is not getting enough milk to meet the glucose requirement
  • Presence of an infection
  • The infant is born prematurely
  • A newborn has a liver disease

Doctors recommend all mothers to breastfeed their babies right after delivery to prevent the development of hypoglycemia. Newborn babies need glucose or sugar for brain and body development. Complications in their development and neurological health may occur with an insufficient supply of glucose and sugar.

How is neonatal hypoglycemia treated and managed?

The most effective way to treat neonatal hypoglycemia is breastfeeding. In certain medical cases, a formula can also substitute breast milk.

If the baby is having a hard time latching onto the mother’s breasts, medical professionals can use a tube to supply the baby with milk or any formula with sugar and glucose. Doctors may also take the help of injections if the other methods fail.