Hypoglycemia In Infancy


Hypoglycemia In Infancy (Inpatient Care) Care Guide

  • Hypoglycemia is a condition that happens when the glucose (sugar) in your infant's blood drops too low. When your infant's blood sugar drops too low, his brain cells and muscles do not have enough energy to work. Glucose is important to help an infant's brain grow normally. Hypoglycemia may be temporary (short-term) or continuous (on-going).

  • There are certain conditions that increase an infant's risk of short-term hypoglycemia. Some of these include being born too early and having a low birth weight and birth length. Another condition includes hyperinsulinism, which means the infant's body makes too much insulin. Insulin is the hormone that moves glucose out of the blood stream and into the cells to be used for energy. Ongoing hypoglycemia can be caused by a certain type of hyperinsulinism, which is caused by a genetic disorder. A genetic disorder is one that an infant is born with and may have been passed from his family. Some other conditions include low hormone levels, problems with the way your infant's body uses glucose, and other medical conditions.

  • The signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia in infants are sometimes mild and not easily seen. Newborns may not have any symptoms at all. Some symptoms that infants may have include not eating well and being sluggish or drowsy. Other symptoms include a bluish or purplish skin color and low body temperature. An infant may also stop breathing for short periods of time.


You have the right to help plan your baby's care. Discuss treatment options with your baby's caregivers to decide what care you want for your baby.


  • If your infant continues to have hypoglycemia and it is not treated, his brain's growth may be affected. Hypoglycemia that occurs over a long period of time can lead to mental retardation, seizures, or both.

  • The medicines that are used to manage your infant's hypoglycemia may cause certain side effects. Some of these side effects include poor growth, pain at the injection site, vomiting, and diarrhea.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that your child may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your child's medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done to your child. Make sure all of your questions are answered.


Your child may need oxygen if his blood oxygen level is lower than it should be. Oxygen will help your child breathe easier. Your child may get oxygen through small tubes placed in his nostrils, or through a mask. He may instead be placed in an oxygen tent. Never take off your child's oxygen tubes or mask or remove him from the tent without asking his caregiver first.

Heart monitor:

This is also called an ECG or EKG. Sticky pads placed on your child's skin record the electrical activity of his heart.

Vital signs:

Caregivers will check your child's blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature. They will also ask you or your child about his pain. These vital signs give caregivers information about your child's current health.


One or more of the following tests may be done:

  • Fasting test: Caregivers may do a fasting test. During this test, they will watch your infant closely during a period of time in which he does not eat. This test is done to cause hypoglycemia to occur in your infant. When the hypoglycemia occurs, they will run tests to try and find the cause of the hypoglycemia.

  • Blood tests: Your child may need blood tests to give caregivers information about how his body is working. The blood may be taken from your child's arm, hand, finger, foot, heel, or IV.

  • Urine tests: A sample of your infant's urine is collected and tested for the ketones and sugar. This test tells caregivers how well his blood glucose is being managed, and if he needs more tests.

  • MRI: An MRI uses a powerful magnet and radio waves to take pictures of the inside of your child's body. Caregivers may use the MRI to look at your child's brain, muscles, joints, bones, or blood vessels. Your child will need to lie still during his test. Never enter the MRI room with any metal objects. This can cause serious injury.

  • CT scan: This test is also called a CAT scan. An x-ray and computer are used to take pictures of your child's body. Your child may be given dye, also called contrast, before the test. Tell the caregiver if your child is allergic to dye, iodine, or seafood.

  • Liver biopsy: A liver biopsy is when a small piece of your infant's liver is removed and sent to a lab for tests. The liver is on the right side of the body, partly behind the ribs and below the lung. Caregivers will clean this area of the skin. Your infant may be given medicine to numb (lose feeling) in the area. A needle is put through the wall of the abdomen or between the ribs. The needle is put into the liver and a small piece is taken out. Your infant will have a bandage over the area after this procedure.

Treatment options:

You may have some of the following treatments alone or together.

  • Intravenous line (IV): Your infant may get glucose (sugar) through an IV to increase his blood glucose level. An IV is a tiny tube placed in your infant's vein.

  • Nasogastric (NG) tube: Your infant may be fed through a nasogastric (NG) tube if he cannot eat through his mouth. An NG tube is put in through his nose and goes down into his stomach.

  • Medicine: Infants with ongoing hypoglycemia may need medicine to manage hypoglycemia.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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