Learn All About Neonatal Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia is a drop in blood sugar levels. Once newborns stop getting blood glucose, their little bodies have to produce their own reserves. In this article, learn all about neonatal hypoglycemia.
Learn All About Neonatal Hypoglycemia

Last update: 16 December, 2019

Neonatal hypoglycemia is a condition characterized by a drop in blood sugar levels. The amount of glucose is below 50 mg/dL, a baby’s body requirements. During pregnancy, babies get glucose from their mothers. When they’re born, they get it from milk and, in turn, also produce their own in the liver.

Glucose is the main fuel for proper brain functioning. Newborns get the energy they need through glucose, which is why a continuous deficiency can have serious consequences.

Medical professionals detect neonatal hypoglycemia through blood drawn from the heel. The doctor should repeat the blood test after a few hours to check the baby’s blood sugar levels.

The symptoms of neonatal hypoglycemia

It’s possible that no symptom manifests or that the blood glucose levels aren’t adequate. Similarly, in the face of some results, it may be necessary to repeat the tests.

Here are some signs that a newborn may have low blood sugar levels:

  • Changes in the baby’s breathing rate.
  • Changes in skin color; the baby may look pale or his or her skin may look bluish.
  • Decreased body temperature.
  • Milk intolerance and vomiting.
  • Sweating, tremors, or seizures in severe cases.
  • Irritability or nervousness.
Learn All About Neonatal Hypoglycemia

When is there an increased risk of neonatal hypoglycemia?

Experts consider these factors to be possible causes of hypoglycemia:

  • Premature babies or babies that are too small for their gestational age.
  • Newborns with gestational diabetes. They’re usually bigger than average.
  • Babies whose mothers suffered diabetes.
  • Newborns with liver ailments that don’t produce the necessary sugar levels in the liver. One of the most serious cases manifests with blood incompatibility between mother and child.
  • Newborn with feeding difficulties.
  • Maternal nutrition deficiencies during pregnancy.
  • Disorders that cause a high consumption of glycogen reserves.
  • Diseases that affect the digestive system and metabolism.


You must try to make sure the baby gets more sugar by increasing his or her milk intake. In some cases, it’s positive to complement breast milk with nutritional supplements. On the market, you can also find sugar solutions for the baby to drink.

When blood sugar levels remain below normal, medical professionals resort to drugs. They repeat the tests periodically to monitor progress. In extreme cases, the baby may need pancreas surgery.

Prognosis of neonatal hypoglycemia

In the simplest cases, it’s possible to reverse the situation with a few days of treatment. Nevertheless, doctors must also be vigilant and make sure the glucose levels don’t drop again after completing said treatment.

Learn All About Neonatal Hypoglycemia

More severe cases can even cause seizures. It’s also believed that children who suffer from severe neonatal hypoglycemia learn slower than others. Although hypoglycemia doesn’t affect IQ, it has an impact on mental development. This effect is especially visible in preschool children.

To avoid these problems in the future, it’s essential to detect and treat the disease early. If you have any questions or your baby manifests symptoms, you must ask your baby’s pediatrician to repeat the blood tests.

Can neonatal hypoglycemia be prevented?

There are no vaccines or specific methods for preventing low blood sugar levels. However, you can do the following during your pregnancy to reduce the risks:

  • Follow a healthy diet rich in vitamins and nutrients.
  • Diabetic pregnant women should control their blood sugar levels and also test their baby’s levels when they’re born.
  • Search for complementary infant feeding methods if you don’t produce enough breast milk.

Neonatal hypoglycemia is more common than people think. It’s very easy to diagnose and lab tests are always recommended. Following the pediatrician’s indications is the best way to help your baby.

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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.