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September 3, 2000

Hypoglycemia

Question from Bayonne, New Jersey, USA:

My son was just diagnosed with "low blood sugar". He is six months old and we just had a very scary two days in the hospital. He was very lethargic and would not wake up. His temperature was normal. He was unresponsive to me and he kept falling asleep after after 12 hours sleep. I started waking him up after 10 hours of sleep (normal for him). I called my pediatrician because I knew something was wrong (this was not me son) My doctor told me to bring him into the office immediately, and after seeing him, ordered me to the emergency room for tests. In the ER, his temperature was 94, and his blood sugar level was 42 mg/dl (2.3 mmol/L). They boosted his sugar level and he was better. Many more tests were also performed including a spinal tap. All came back negative. My doctor told me to make sure he does not lack food for more than eight hours and wants me to go to an endocrinologist to have him tested. I am stricken with worry that this is diabetes. Will he or can he grow out of this? Is this very serious? Do I have reason to lose sleep over this? He is my first child and I am very worried after watching what he had to go through in the ER being only six months old. Can this get worse?

Answer:

There are a number of reasons why your son can have hypoglycemia. A pediatric endocrinologist should be of help in the clarification of diagnosis. From my point of view, as a diabetologist, hypoglycemia presenting in a six month old infant, without family history of diabetes, doesn’t sound as an early manifestation of a type 1 diabetes. It could be due to the inappropriate release of insulin for other reasons or to congenital deficiencies of glucogenic enzymes.

MS