Hypoglycaemia Prevention in Newborns with Oral Dextrose

Hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) is the commonest metabolic condition of the newborn. It affects up to 15% of babies, and the incidence is increasing as risk factors such as maternal diabetes and preterm birth are becoming more common. Neonatal hypoglycaemia frequently leads to neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) admission and may cause long-term brain damage. Currently, there are no strategies, beyond early feeding, to prevent neonatal hypoglycaemia. The hPOD (hypoglycaemia Prevention in newborns with Oral Dextrose) Study is the first study to investigate whether neonatal hypoglycaemia (low blood sugars in newborns) can be prevented by a simple oral dextrose gel.

The first part of the study (Prophylactic Oral Dextrose Gel for Newborn Babies at Risk of Neonatal Hypoglycaemia: A Randomised Controlled Dose-Finding Trial – the Pre-hPOD Study) was published on 26th October 2016 and demonstrated that the incidence of neonatal hypoglycaemia can be reduced with a single dose of buccal 40% dextrose gel 200 mg/kg.

Recruitment for the second part of the study (hPOD Main Trial) was completed in May 2019. 2,149 New Zealand and Australian families have participated in this study, including 52 families from Hawke’s Bay. The Foudation supported paediatric research nurse Mel Spooner and local lead investigator Dr Oliver Grupp with recruitment and data collection in Hawke’s Bay. After the completion of the data analysis next year, we will know whether prophylactic dextrose gel can help to reduce hypoglycaemia-related admission to special care for these at-risk babies.

The third and final part of the study (hPOD 2YR Study) will evaluate whether prophylactic dextrose gel will improve later neuro-developmental outcomes for these babies at two-years of age. The hPOD 2YR study is well-underway and due for completion in 2021.

HPOD team: (Michelle Robertson – CNM, Oliver Grupp – paediatrician, Louise Gelling – midwife, Mel Spooner – research nurse, Di O’Conner – nurse educator)
Author: Laura

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