Caring for Premature Baby: Blood Sugar

Mother holding preemie baby.jpg

What kind of blood sugar problems can preemie babies have?

Their blood sugar may be either too low or too high. Low blood sugar is common soon after birth. High blood sugar is more common in babies who are getting most or all of their nutrition by vein.

How is blood sugar monitored?

It can be monitored by placing a drop of blood onto a chemical strip. A sample of blood can also be sent to the laboratory for a blood sugar determination.

How is low blood sugar treated?

It is treated by giving the baby more sugar. If your baby is on feedings by vein (IV), the amount of sugar in the intravenous fluids is increased. If your baby does not have an IV, s/he may be fed sooner and/or more often, or an IV may be started in order to give your baby sugar water.

How is high blood sugar treated?

If your baby is being fed by vein, the amount of sugar in the IV fluids may be decreased. Or, your baby's doctors may decide to give your baby insulin to help your baby use more sugar in his/her body.

Do blood sugar problems in a baby mean s/he will get diabetes?

No, sugar problems in a preemie do not relate to whether s/he will develop diabetes later on in life. But, infants of mothers who have had diabetes in pregnancy are more likely to have low blood sugar in the newborn period. Once a baby is feeding regularly, blood sugar problems seldom recur.