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Can Low Blood Sugar in a Newborn Cause Seizures, Neonatal Hypoglycemic Brain Injury (NHBI), Brain Damage in an Infant or Cerebral Palsy?

A rapidly growing baby gets glucose or sugar from its mother through the placenta during pregnancy. After birth, the baby gets glucose by producing it in their liver and from breast milk or formula feedings. Babies need sugar or glucose for energy and most of the glucose in their body is being used up by their brains. The brain depends on blood glucose as its main source of energy. Severe or prolonged hypoglycemia or low blood sugar in a newborn that is not treated can result in seizures, serious brain injury, irreversible brain damage, developmental delays, heart failure, seizures, epilepsy or cerebral palsy.

Baby in a newborn hospital crib

Approximately 2 out of every 1,000 babies born suffer from hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. Newborns that are more likely to develop problems with their blood sugar are:

  • Premature babies with minimal body fat
  • Small for gestational age
  • Born to diabetic mothers
  • Born to mothers who had an inadequate diet or nutrition during pregnancy
  • Have hemolytic disease of the newborn or incompatibility of blood types of mother and baby
  • Have birth defects
  • Have congenital metabolic diseases
  • Suffered birth asphyxia or lack of oxygen during birth
  • Suffer from cold stress
  • Have liver disease
  • Have a blood infection or sepsis
  • Large for gestational age or macrosomic
  • Born to a mother that had chorioamnionitis or a uterine infection around the time of birth

Glucose or sugar levels in a newborn baby can drop or decrease if there is too much insulin in the blood, not enough glycogen or stored sugar in the body, an inability to make glucose, or if the baby is stressed due to being too cold or fighting an infection causing them to use more glucose than they can produce.

An infant with low blood sugar or hypoglycemia may show the following symptoms:

  • Bluish-colored skin (cyanosis)
  • Breathing problems or stops breathing (apnea)
  • Decreased muscle tone, floppy or hypotonia
  • Eye rolling
  • High heart rate
  • Grunting
  • Irritability
  • Listlessness or limp
  • Nausea,
  • Vomiting
  • Pale skin
  • Poor feeding
  • Rapid breathing
  • Problems with maintaining body temperature
  • Shakiness
  • Sweating
  • Tremors
  • Seizures

Infants who are diagnosed with hypoglycemia or low blood sugar may need to be fed glucose water or formula or receive intravenous (IV) glucose or Dextrose. Sometimes, if the sugar is too low, the baby may need to receive a high concentration of a glucose solution quickly pushed into their IV line. If the low blood sugar continues, the baby may receive medications to increase their blood glucose levels or reduce insulin production. If those measures do not correct the newborn’s low blood sugar, they may have to undergo surgery to have a portion of their pancreas removed to decrease the amount of insulin production in their body.

How Beasley Firm Can Help

Here at the nationally known Beasley medical negligence law firm, our specialized medical and legal teams have the unique medical knowledge to help you or a loved one. We have an in-house staff that consists of doctors, labor and delivery nurses, emergency room nurses and neonatal intensive care (NICU) nurses who not only treated infants who have had hypoglycemia but who are also well aware of all the conditions that could cause a baby to have a low blood sugar in the first place.

If your child had hypoglycemia or low blood sugar after birth and now has developmental delays, a brain injury or cerebral palsy, please feel free to contact one of our birth injury attorneys, physicians, or nurses for a confidential and free consultation. Since 1958, we have had over $2 billion awarded on behalf of our injured clients. We were there for them when they needed us and we are here for you now.

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