Jane Harding: treating low blood sugars in newborns

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Professor Jane Harding with Kawiti Nordstrom from the CHYLD study

Research led by the University’s Deputy-Vice Chancellor (Research ), Professor Jane Harding have just been published in the internationally respected medical journal, The Lancet.

The research shows that a cheap and easy-to-administer dextrose gel should be used to treat low blood sugars in newborns.

Low blood sugar or neonatal hypoglycaemia is a common problem that affects up to 15 per cent of otherwise healthy babies and is a preventable cause of brain damage, says Jane.

The research was carried out at the University’s Liggins Institute and at Waikato Women’s Hospital in Hamilton where PhD student and Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Deborah Harris recruited the families involved.

“Our study is the first report in babies showing that dextrose gel massaged into the inside of the cheek is more effective than feeding alone for treating hypoglycaemia, and is safe and simple to use .”

“Dextrose gel treatment costs roughly $2 per baby and could help reduce admissions to neonatal intensive care for treatment with intravenous glucose—not only reducing costs but importantly, keeping mothers and babies together to encourage breastfeeding”.

Jane also features on the cover of Auckland Now out this week. The CHYLD (Children with Hypogylcaemia and their later Development) study she is leading with funding support from the United States National Institutes of Health(NIH) is profiled. CHYLD is looking at the connection between low blood sugar levels in new born babies and subsequent brain damage.

 For more about the paper, read The Lancet: Dextrose gel for neonatal hypoglycaemia (the Sugar Babies Study): a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial