New research shows a simple yet effective way to keep more mothers and babies together after birth, even when babies are born with hypoglycemia. When feedings alone are not enough to improve the baby’s health, a dose of sugar may be all that’s needed to get the baby back on track and continue the immediate bonding and breastfeeding practices that are best for mothers and babies.
Hypoglycemia in newborns is becoming more and more common due to a growing number of overweight and diabetic mothers. Hypoglycemia in newborns is a condition where the baby is born with low blood sugar levels, which can affect his immediate health and ability to regulate body functions outside the womb.
The traditional protocol for hypoglycemia in newborns is to intervene if the baby is not improving after three feedings. Intervention includes formula supplementation and an IV of fluids including dextrose, a sugar supplement, which requires the baby to be away from his mother in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for hours or even days.
Based on the latest research, a team came up with an innovative idea so babies don’t have to be separated from their mothers. Rather than intravenous supplementation, a dextrose gel can be administered in the baby’s cheek in the mom’s hospital room. The gel contains 40 grams of sugar per 100mL as opposed to only 7 grams of sugar in 100mL of breast milk.
This alternative treatment for hypoglycemia in newborns was tested in two hospitals in Buffalo, NY. The results were positive: Before the dextrose gel treatment procedure was instituted, 42% of newborns with hypoglycemia were admitted to the NICU. With the dextrose treatment, only 26% required NICU care. The dextrose showed a 16% improvement in babies. This not only boosted their health, but it also allowed babies to stay with their mothers and reduced health care costs significantly.
“Rooming in” is recommended for mothers and babies in the hospital to promote bonding, allow for lots of skin-to-skin contact and to establish a healthy breastfeeding on demand routine. Breastfeeding early and often helps encourage mom’s milk supply and sets the stage for good breastfeeding practices. As mothers spend more time with their newborns, they begin to read their cues and understand their needs to best care for babies. Babies benefit greatly from staying close to their mothers by stabilizing their temperature, regulating their heart beat and staying calm.
Many infant-care practitioners are interested in the dextrose gel treatment for hypoglycemia in newborns to help nurture babies and keep them with their mothers in the most critical first days of life. This minor change in procedure could make a big impact on the health outcome of newborns.
Sources: Science Daily