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Hyperglycemia - infants

Definition

Hyperglycemia is abnormally high blood sugar. The medical term for blood sugar is blood glucose.

This article discusses hyperglycemia in infants.

Alternative Names

High blood sugar - infants; High blood glucose level - infants

Causes

A healthy baby's body most often has very careful control of blood sugar level. Insulin is the main hormone in the body that regulates blood sugar. Sick babies may have poor insulin function or low amounts. This causes poor control of the blood sugar.

There can be specific causes of ineffective or low insulin. Causes may include infection, liver problems, hormone problems, and some medications. Rarely, babies may actually have diabetes, and therefore have a low insulin level that results in high blood sugar.

Symptoms

Babies with hyperglycemia often have no symptoms.

Sometimes, babies with high blood sugar will produce large amounts of urine and become dehydrated. High blood sugar may be a sign that the baby has added stress on the body due to problems such as an infection or heart failure.

Exams and Tests

A blood test will be done to check the baby's blood sugar level. This can be done with a heel or finger stick at the bedside or in a health care provider's office or lab.

Outlook (Prognosis)

There are most often no long-term effects from a temporary high blood sugar level unless the baby has diabetes.

References

Hawdon J, Cheetham T, Schenk DJ, Wraith JE, et al. Metabolic and endocrine disorders. In: Rennie JM, ed. Rennie and Roberton's Textbook of Neonatology. 5th ed. London, UK: Elsevier; 2012:chap 34.

Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St Geme JW III, Schor MF. Electrolyte and acid-base disorders. In: Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St Geme JW III, Schor NF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 55.


Review Date: 11/19/2015
Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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