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A little dextrose can protect newborns from low blood sugar

Harold Mandel's picture
A newborn baby

Neonatal hypoglycemia is a common metabolic problem in newborns which can have major long-term consequences including neurologic damage. Researchers have found just a single dose of dextrose gel can decrease a newborn's risk of getting neonatal hypoglycemia.


Researchers have found that rubbing a single dose of dextrose gel inside the mouth of a newborn an hour after birth can decrease the risk of neonatal hypoglycemia. Jane Alsweiler from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, and her colleagues published this study in PLOS Medicine.

This is a novel study in testing for dextrose to be used for prevention of hypoglycemia

This study was designed to explore the optimal dose and timing to give dextrose to a newborn. It is a novel study in testing for dextrose to be used for prevention instead of treatment for low blood glucose. This is very important with about 33 percent of infants being at risk for neonatal hypoglycemia, which is low blood sugar levels.

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There is an increased risk of impaired development of the nervous system in baby's with this condition. Aside from
formula feeding there have not been any established methods to prevent hypoglycemia in babies who are at risk. This becomes a problem because formula feeding may have detrimental effects on the establishment of breastfeeding. Babies who are at risk for hypoglycemia include those delivered preterm, born to mothers with diabetes, and small or large birth-weight babies.

Oral dextrose gel lowers the incidence of neonatal hypoglycemia

It has been found that oral dextrose gel is effective in treating neonatal hypoglycemia after it develops. This new study included 416 babies who were at risk of hypoglycemia. It was observed for the first time that oral dextrose gel lowers the incidence of neonatal hypoglycemia. Researchers now want to determine if this will result in other clinically significant benefits in the short term and any positive effects on long term health.

This study has been published in the journal PLOS Medicine. Neonatal hypoglycemia is a common condition which affects up to 15 percent of newborn babies. This condition can result in brain damage. Researchers have determined the incidence of neonatal hypoglycemia can be lowered with one dose of buccal 40 percent dextrose gel 200 mg/kg. The potential positive clinical ramifications of this finding are remarkable.