Pediatric Hypoglycemia

Also known as:  hypoglycemia, low blood sugar, low blood glucose

What are hypoglycemia and a low blood sugar?

Glucose is the main source of fuel for the cells of the body, particularly the brain. Hypoglycemia is the medical term for a low blood sugar (the normal range depends on prematurity and its type, being full term born and age after birth).

It’s a common problem in newborn and preterm infants and is usually seen in older children as a complication of taking insulin for diabetes mellitus.

What causes hypoglycemia and low blood sugar?

There are a large number of causes of hypoglycemia in the newborn baby and children. Many are quite rare.

Usually, older children with hypoglycemia not on diabetes treatment often have not eaten for a long time, or not eaten enough or have exercised hard without eating adequately.

Diabetic children may have had a dose of medication (insulin) too large for the amount of food eaten, or may have had a delayed or missed a meal, over-exercised, have an infection, illness or stress, had alcohol, or have other medical problems like celiac disease, or endocrine gland abnormalities.

What are the symptoms of hypoglycemia and low blood sugar?

Common symptoms of hypoglycemia include shakiness, sweating, dizziness, hunger, fatigue, pale skin, mood changes, irritability, blurry vision, rapid heart rate, trouble concentrating, seizures, loss of consciousness or coma in severe instances.

What are hypoglycemia and low blood sugar care options?

For diabetic children preventive measures like blood sugar testing often, eating regularly and appropriately and regularly taking ordered insulin to maintain a blood sugar as close to normal, is best.

For immediate treatment, drinking or eating a sugar-containing drink like orange juice, regular soda, or sucking glucose tablets or sucking hard sugar candy or swallowing a sugar gel, will bring the blood sugar towards normal and alleviate symptoms.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: July 25, 2022 02:51 PM

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