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"How to Recognize and Treat Hypoglycemia in a Newborn Baby"

Updated: Mar 29

Newborn Hypoglycemia: A Guide for Parents

This informative guide explains hypoglycemia, a condition affecting newborn blood sugar levels.

What is Hypoglycemia?

Newborn hypoglycemia occurs when a baby's blood sugar (glucose) drops below healthy levels. Glucose is vital for brain and body function.

Causes of Hypoglycemia

Several factors can contribute to hypoglycemia in newborns, including:

  • Maternal factors: Poor nutrition during pregnancy, uncontrolled diabetes in the mother, or certain medications taken during pregnancy.

  • Baby's health: Premature birth, low birth weight, small size for gestational age, birth defects, hormonal imbalances, or infections.

  • Delivery complications: Birth asphyxia (lack of oxygen at birth).

Risk Factors

Newborns at higher risk for hypoglycemia include:

  • Babies born to mothers with diabetes

  • Premature babies, especially those with low birth weight

  • Babies born small for gestational age

  • Babies experiencing significant stress during delivery

  • Babies exposed to certain medications during pregnancy


Symptoms of hypoglycemia in newborns can be subtle and may vary. Here are some common signs:

  • Shakiness

  • Bluish skin or lips (cyanosis) or paleness

  • Irregular breathing (apnea or rapid breathing)

  • Low body temperature (hypothermia)

  • Floppy muscles (weak muscle tone)

  • Poor feeding interest

  • Lethargy (lack of movement and energy)

  • Seizures

  • Weak or high-pitched cry


A simple blood test can diagnose hypoglycemia by measuring blood sugar levels.


Treatment depends on the baby's age and overall health. It typically involves providing a quick source of glucose, such as a glucose and water mixture, formula, or intravenous (IV) glucose. Blood sugar levels are monitored after treatment to ensure the hypoglycemia doesn't recur.


Severe or prolonged hypoglycemia can harm brain development, leading to seizures or serious brain injury.


While prevention isn't always possible, healthcare providers closely monitor at-risk babies. Mothers with diabetes can help lower their baby's risk by maintaining healthy blood sugar levels during pregnancy.

When to Call the Doctor

Seek immediate medical attention if you notice any signs of hypoglycemia in your baby. You can give formula or a glucose and water mixture if advised by a healthcare professional.

Key Takeaways

  • Hypoglycemia is low blood sugar in newborns.

  • Risk factors include maternal diabetes, prematurity, and low birth weight.

  • Signs include shakiness, bluish skin, and poor feeding.

  • Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial.

Next Steps

  • Prepare for your pediatrician visit by listing questions and concerns.

  • Understand new diagnoses, medications, and instructions.

  • Ask about potential side effects and alternative treatments (if any).

  • Inquire about follow-up appointments and after-hours contact information.

Remember, this information is for general knowledge only. Always consult your pediatrician for specific advice regarding your baby's health.

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