Can a Newborn Baby Have Low Sugar Levels at Birth?


Research has concluded that one out of six kids born has the possibility of neurological issues when they become toddlers. This has been associated with neonatal hypoglycemia (low blood sugar level at birth). Difficulties like lack of good memory, less problem-solving skills, less hand-eye coordination, deficiency of fine motor skills and attention disorders have been associated with low blood sugar levels at birth. Upon further research, babies born premature or babies whose mothers have diabetes have been identified with a higher risk of neonatal hypoglycemia.

Newborn Baby Have Low Sugar Levels

What is Neonatal Hypoglycemia?

  1. When sugar levels in the blood are too low than the standard levels, the medical condition is referred to as hypoglycemia. 
  2. In a newborn baby, when such a condition is identified, it leads to symptoms like shakiness, blue coloration of the skin, breathing problems, and feeding problems. 
  3. As glucose is the main source of energy to all organs, especially the brain, fewer glucose levels are like emergency situations.
  4. When plasma glucose level is less than 30 mg/dL in the first 24 hours of life and less than 45 mg/dL post 24 hours, the condition is defined as neonatal hypoglycemia.
  5. It is one of the most common metabolic problems in newborns.

What are the Causes of Neonatal Hypoglycemia?

The probable causes of hypoglycemia are:

  1. Mother’s poor nutrition during pregnancy
  2. Mother’s diabetes during pregnancy that causes too much insulin in the mother’s body
  3. The incompatible blood type of mother and baby
  4. Birth defects
  5. Uncontrollable insulin secretion in newborn due to a defect in pancreas
  6. Congenital metabolic disease or hormone deficiency
  7. Asphyxia at birth (less oxygen)
  8. Liver disease
  9. Infection

Are all Newborns Prone to Neonatal Hypoglycemia?

Not all babies born are prone to low sugar levels at birth. However, the following prenatal conditions can give rise to neonatal hypoglycemia namely:

  1. Mothers suffering from diabetes or gestational diabetes
  2. Babies who look small and growth-restricted
  3. Premature birth and low birth weight
  4. Mothers under depression or stress during pregnancy
  5. Babies who look larger than their gestational age
  6. Mothers treated with medications during pregnancy. Not all medicines but some like anti-contraction medicines that are used to delay preterm labor. The American Academy of Pediatrics has researched the effect of tocolytic drugs to mothers and concluded that though the drug is considered safe when the large dosage is administered, these drugs stimulate adenosine monophosphate that fuels an elevation in the concentration of blood glucose and insulin. 

Diagnosis and Treatment 

The diagnosis of neonatal hypoglycemia is done with a blood test for elevated glucose levels. Treatments for this diseased condition depend on the baby’s weight and gestational age. The baby is administered with a quick source of glucose through formula feed or an IV. The glucose levels are checked from time to time to identify if hypoglycemia occurs again.

Hypoglycemia at birth is a treatable condition. The risks of hypoglycemia are high in neonatal; hence, immediate care is mandatory.


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