Is low blood sugar in newborns serious? It is actually very common for babies to have low blood sugar after birth, but breastfeeding early and often can prevent and help with low blood sugar in baby.
Baby having low blood sugar does not mean that he will develop diabetes, most of the time the blood sugar levels will normalize after baby starts drinking well.
The low blood sugar is treated immediately because if it is left for too long it can cause other serious problems like brain damage.
Causes of low blood sugar in newborns
- While a baby is inside his mother, his blood sugar is controlled by hers through the umbilical cord. Baby will then store some glycogen in his liver in the last three months inside mom. This is why low blood sugar is more common in premature babies because they do not have the stored glycogen in their liver for regulating sugar.
- Another reason why baby might have low blood sugar is when mom has diabetes that is poorly managed. This will cause baby to produce too much insulin after birth.
- Baby may be too cold, stressed out or might cry too much after birth, which can also cause hypoglycemia.
- A baby born with low blood sugar may be producing too little glucose which can be caused through brain injury or metabolic problems. This is a very rare occurrence.
Babies that are at higher risk of having hypoglycemia
- low blood sugar in newborn babies is most common with diabetic moms
- Babies who are premature or who are a very low birth weight are at higher risk.
- A smaller twin has a higher risk of becoming a low blood sugar baby
- Babies with colds or respiratory problems after birth
- Mothers who had long labors
- Babies who are under stress during delivery
- Babies who get too cold after birth and are not allowed skin on skin contact with mom.
- Moms who are given intravenous fluids containing glucose
What can moms do to help their babies or prevent low blood sugar in newborns
- Breastfeed as often as you can. Breast milk will help stabilize baby’s blood sugar levels.
- Keep baby warm and prevent baby from crying for long periods at a time after birth. It’s best to breastfeed baby as quickly after birth as possible…even in the delivery room if you can.
- If baby is not sucking properly, mom can pump her colostrum and cup feed baby. Even a small amount of colostrum can help regulate baby’s sugar levels. If baby is sucking well at the breast, breast compressions can help get more colostrum out from the breast.
- If mom is diabetic she should eat well and control her diabetes properly during her pregnancy.
- If supplements or donated breast milk are given to baby, make sure that they are given without using artificial nipples which can cause nipple confusion. There are many alternative ways to feed baby …this is to ensure a successful breastfeeding relationship later.
Once feeding is established, newborn low blood sugar is usually not a problem anymore.
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