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July 6, 2000


Question from Aurora, Colorado, USA:

My son is 5 years old; at birth he was hypoglycemic. After the fourth day a endocrinologist was allowed to visit him, at this point the hospital was still unsure why my son was unable to maintain an acceptable sugar level, 3 days after this specialist was brought in he was allowed to go home. I monitored and feed my son every 3 hours. After two months the endocrinologist announced he was stable and no longer needed to be monitored.

I was told that he could have learning issues due to the extremely low glucose levels he experienced in the hospital. This has not been the case, my son excels and is reading at a 3rd grade level. What we are experiencing is bouts of uncontrollable anger at school for no apparent reason. Although my husband and I no longer monitor my son’s sugar level and have not since two months we are confident that he is experiencing low levels of glucose during these outbursts. Are these types of outbursts of anger a by product of low sugar levels? My son does not have these issues at home and is allowed to “graze” throughout the day rather than meals and snacks at specific times. We both have experienced behavioral changes that quickly turned around after eating. We have tried snacks at school and did see improvement however they are not given as often as needed.

Also, I am wondering if in your experience children with hypoglycemia have been misdiagnosed with ADHD.


From: DTeam Staff

I rather doubt if your son’s present problems are related to the neonatal hypoglycemia. The phenomenon of temper tantrums that are allayed by food is a well recognized one and most families deal with it in the way you have. It is a state that young people seem to grow out of; but since you have the experience it would be of interest to do a blood sugar at the time of the tantrum. This would be difficult to interpret however because it is likely that the low blood glucose comes well before the burst of temper.

It would be important though to try to work with the school on the issue of snacks, if there is a school nurse a call from your son’s doctor will often help and she could hold the snacks. If calorie supplements are arranged and they don’t work it is possible that the temper outburst represent another problem for which you need help starting with the school psychologist.

ADHD is quite often confused with hypoglycemia, mostly it is the parents of an ADHD child who wonder if the problem could be one of hypoglycemia. One cant help feeling that a lot of the confusion reflects a hope to have to deal with a more specific and more easily treatable condition than ADHD.