Evaluation of Risk Factors and Approach to Screening for Asymptomatic Neonatal Hypoglycemia

Neonatology. 2022;119(1):77-83. doi: 10.1159/000520512. Epub 2021 Dec 20.


Introduction: Protocols to identify asymptomatic neonatal hypoglycemia (NH) rely on the presence of established risk factors (late preterm gestation, large or small for gestational age, and infant of a diabetic mother) for inclusion. We analyzed the performance of these risk factors in identifying hypoglycemia in modern practice, and additionally evaluated the optimal duration of screening blood glucose measurements.

Methods: We analyzed a retrospective cohort of 830 infants with 1 or more known risk factor(s) for NH admitted to the mother-baby unit of a single tertiary-care center from May 2017 to April 2018. Manual chart review was performed for data extraction and confirmation of risk factor(s). Infants were excluded if glucose measurements were obtained for any reason other than screening for asymptomatic NH.

Results: Of the 830 included infants, 31 (3.7%) ultimately received intravenous dextrose (IVD). Most screened infants (n = 510, 61.4%) did not develop hypoglycemia. None of the established risk factors showed strong association with hypoglycemia. Cesarean delivery was associated with hypoglycemia, although not strongly. All infants who received IVD for feeding-refractory hypoglycemia were identified by the first 2 measurements with nearly all (30/31, 97%) identified at the initial measurement.

Conclusions: Currently accepted risk factors are limited in their ability to identify infants who subsequently develop hypoglycemia, and as a result, most screened infants do not develop hypoglycemia. The majority of infants in our cohort who did develop hypoglycemia achieved normoglycemia with feeding-based interventions and did not require IVD. Those that received IVD were more likely to develop hypoglycemia early and to a more severe degree. Together, our data suggest further refinement of protocol duration and risk factors utilized for screening as potential areas of screening protocol optimization.

Keywords: Asymptomatic hypoglycemia; Risk factors; Screening.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemia* / diagnosis
  • Hypoglycemia* / prevention & control
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Newborn, Diseases*
  • Infant, Small for Gestational Age
  • Pregnancy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors