We know that blood sugar is important. But we have very little idea about what is a normal blood sugar level in a newborn baby. Glucose in Well Babies (GLOW) is a new study being conducted by the Newborn Intensive Care Unit Research Group at Waikato Hospital. GLOW aims to describe the normal sugar levels in newborn babies during the first five postnatal days.
Before Christmas parents Julia Viladomiu and Daniel Delgado participated in the study with their first child Erika. The couple said they met lead researcher Dr Deborah Harris at antenatal classes.
“When Deborah first approached us we weren’t too sure but we discussed participating in GLOW and realised it was not going to harm Erika or us,” said Julia.
“Erika will help other kids in the future, which is a good way to start her life.”
Immediately after Erika was born the research team took some blood samples from her umbilical cord and also placed a small glucose monitor on her upper thigh. Over the next day, three more blood tests were taken from her heel.
“All this happened very quickly, Erika didn’t even notice anything,” said Daniel.
Participating in the GLOW babies study means for the first five days of the newborn’s life a member of the research team will meet with the family to take small blood samples. But for Julia and Daniel they say it has been more than just a study.
“It has actually meant we had an extra support – one of the researchers (Alana Cumberpatch) is a lactation consultant as well, so has helped us with that, and it has been nice to know you have a group of people around that are just happy to help,” said Julia.
Waikato District Health Board neonatal nurse practitioner Dr Harris said blood sugar levels in newborn babies has never been reliably reported. “Our research team has a great deal of experience with babies who are at risk of low blood sugar levels,” she said.
“Our findings from the Sugar Babies Study have changed the way babies are treated for low blood sugar levels all over the world. We are very pleased to have the opportunity to understand blood sugar levels in healthy babies.”
Glucose or sugar is important because it is our primary brain fuel. “Understanding what normal blood sugar levels are over the first five days is important. At the moment we don’t know what a normal level looks like, and therefore we don’t really know what abnormal is,” she said.
We hope that this study will help us not only understand normal, but also may change the way babies and their families are cared for in the future.