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September 12, 1999

Hypoglycemia

Question from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada:

My 18 month old son was diagnosed two months ago with Type 1 diabetes. With respect to hypoglycemia, what low blood sugar reading is considered to be low-severe versus that which is low-moderate for a young child?

Answer:

Home blood glucose meters can only screen for hypoglycemia, and you are therefore unable to use the number on your meter as though it were a laboratory blood glucose. In general, without diabetes, the blood glucose level would be 60-120 mg/dl. Less than 60 (or 50) would be considered hypoglycemia.

When a child takes insulin, speak to your doctor about individual goals for blood sugars, and have a level at which to respond to a blood sugar. Usually for a very young child with diabetes, we would give something to eat or drink at somewhere between 70-100 mg/dl or less, depending on the individual situation. Be careful not to “overtreat” low blood sugars with too many carbohydrates.

LM