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September 6, 2001


Question from the Netherlands:

My brother has become a father last week, and unfortunately, the baby has a blood sugar problem with his level, which was down to zero when they rushed him to hospital. I have searched the Internet especially for newborn babies with this kind of problem, but have not been able to find it. Do you know where I could find this specific information on the Internet?


You should go with your brother to your nephew’s doctor and discuss this directly with them if your brother cannot answer your questions, of course. It is likely you are talking about a condition where the newborn pancreas makes too much insulin or is without the ability to generate sufficient sugar for energy needs. There are many different possible causes, one of which is a disarray of the pancreas insulin production called nesidioblastosis. All these reflect either too much insulin being produced — a faulty thermostat, if you will or insufficient energy stores to provide glucose for the baby’s energy needs. Thus, the resulting hypoglycemic emergency. Neonates with such problems sometimes have prolonged periods of times with hypoglycemia and so there is a significant relationship with untreated or prolonged neonatal hypoglycemia and brain damage seizures etc. In any case, you should get your information and specifics for this child from the doctors involved.

Additional comments from Dr. Donough O’Brien:

There are several reviews at PubMed if you search under “neonatal hypoglycemia.”