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Non-diabetic Hypoglycemia In Childhood


What is non-diabetic hypoglycemia?

Non-diabetic hypoglycemia is a condition that causes your child's blood glucose (sugar) level to drop too low. This type of low blood sugar level can happen in children who do not have diabetes. When your child's blood sugar level drops too low, his brain cells and muscles do not have enough energy to work well. Glucose is also important for helping your child's brain grow normally.

What causes non-diabetic hypoglycemia in children?

The cause of non-diabetic hypoglycemia may be unknown. It may be caused by certain medical conditions. These include hyperinsulinism (your child's body makes too much insulin), hypothyroidism, or prediabetes. It may also be caused by fasting, which can lead to ketotic hypoglycemia. This is a condition that causes the body to change fats into glucose for energy.

What are the signs and symptoms of non-diabetic hypoglycemia in children?

  • Hunger or nausea
  • Sweating more than usual
  • Anxiety, confusion, or changes in behavior
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Weakness
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Headache

How is non-diabetic hypoglycemia in children diagnosed?

Healthcare providers will ask about your child's symptoms and your family's health. They may ask you about the amount of time between your child's last meal and the start of his symptoms. They may also ask if any other children in your family have hypoglycemia, or have had it in the past.

  • Blood tests are done to measure your child's blood sugar levels. These tests may also be done to find the cause of your child's hypoglycemia.
  • Fasting tests may be done. Healthcare providers watch your child closely during a period of time in which he does not eat. This test is done to see if, and when hypoglycemia occurs.
  • An oral glucose tolerance test may be done. After your child has fasted for 8 hours, his blood sugar level is tested. He is then given a glucose drink. His blood sugar level is checked after 1 hour and again after 2 hours. Healthcare providers look at how much his blood sugar level increases from the first check.

How is non-diabetic hypoglycemia in children treated?

  • The treatment your child will receive depends on the cause of his hypoglycemia. The first step is to raise his blood sugar level by having him eat or drink a source of carbohydrate. Some children may need to be given glucose through an IV at a hospital. Your child's hypoglycemia may go away with treatment as he grows.
  • If your child has ketotic hypoglycemia, he may need to be fed often. He may also need to be on a high-protein, high-carbohydrate diet. Some foods that contain protein are red meat, poultry (chicken and turkey), fish, beans, eggs, and nuts. Some foods that contain carbohydrate are bread, tortillas, cereal, rice, and pasta. Ask your child's healthcare provider if he needs to be on a special diet.

When should I contact my child's healthcare provider?

  • Your child has blurred vision or vision changes.
  • Your child feels very tired and weak.
  • Your child is sweating more than usual.
  • Your child feels dizzy, lightheaded, and shaky.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care or call 911?

  • Your child has symptoms of hypoglycemia and cannot eat.
  • Your child has trouble thinking clearly.
  • Your child has a seizure or faints.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child. 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.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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