Dextrose Gels To Help Prevent Brain Damage In Newborns

A New Zealand study has found that cheap dextrose gels could be used to treat low blood sugar in newborns.

AsianScientist (Oct. 22, 2013) – Cheap dextrose gels could be used to treat low blood sugar in newborns, according to a New Zealand research study published in The Lancet.

Low blood sugar (neonatal hypoglycemia) is a common problem that affects up to 15 percent of healthy babies and is a cause of brain damage, said Professor Jane Harding from the University of Auckland, who was the lead author of the study.

“Our study is the first report in babies showing that dextrose gel massaged into the inside of the cheek is more effective than feeding alone for treating hypoglycemia, and is safe and simple to use,” said Harding.

Dextrose gels are already used to reverse hypoglycemia in people with diabetes, but little evidence exists for its use in babies. Currently, treatment for late preterm and term babies involves extra feeding and repeated blood tests to measure blood sugar levels. However, many babies are admitted to intensive care and given intravenous glucose because their blood sugar remains low.

The study was designed to assess whether treatment with dextrose gels is more effective than feeding alone at reversing neonatal hypoglycemia in at-risk babies from pregnancies complicated by maternal diabetes, preterm birth, or babies with low birth weight.

Babies given the dextrose gel were also less likely to be admitted to intensive care for hypoglycemia. Harding added that in the past, babies with hypoglycemia were often given formula in the first few hours after birth, and if that did not work, then they were admitted to intensive care and put on a drip.

“The dextrose gel improves the rate of breast feeding and we think this might be because babies stay with their mothers, and are not given formula in the first few hours to manage their hypoglycemia,” said Harding.

“It is a fantastic opportunity to decrease the amount of intervention and high tech treatments these babies need and so keep them out of intensive care and with their mothers,” she said.

The article can be found at: Harris et al. (2013) Dextrose Gel For Neonatal Hypoglycaemia (The Sugar Babies Study): A randomised, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Trial.


Source: The University of Auckland; Photo: amrufm/Flickr/CC.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

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