Association between newborn hypoglycemia screening and breastfeeding success in an Ottawa, Ontario, hospital: a retrospective cohort study

CMAJ Open. 2023 Apr 25;11(2):E381-E388. doi: 10.9778/cmajo.20210324. Print 2023 Mar-Apr.


Background: There has been limited investigation of the unintended effects of routine screening for asymptomatic hypoglycemia in at-risk newborns. This study aimed to explore whether rates of exclusive breastfeeding were lower in screened babies than in unscreened babies.

Methods: This retrospective cohort study conducted in Ottawa, Canada, used data from Hôpital Montfort's electronic health information system. Healthy singleton newborns discharged between Feb. 1, 2014, and June 30, 2018, were included. We excluded babies and mothers with conditions expected to interfere with breastfeeding (e.g., twins). We investigated the association between postnatal screening for hypoglycemia and initial exclusive breastfeeding (in the first 24 hours of life).

Results: We included 10 965 newborns; of these, 1952 (17.8%) were fully screened for hypoglycemia. Of screened newborns, 30.6% exclusively breastfed and 64.6% took both formula and breastmilk in the first 24 hours of life. Of unscreened newborns, 45.4% exclusively breastfed and 49.8% received both formula and breastmilk. The adjusted odds ratio for exclusive breastfeeding in the first 24 hours of life among newborns screened for hypoglycemia was 0.57 (95% confidence interval 0.51-0.64).

Interpretation: The association of routine newborn hypoglycemia screening with a lower initial rate of exclusive breastfeeding suggests a potential effect of screening on early breastfeeding success. Confirmation of these findings might warrant a re-evaluation of the net benefit of asymptomatic postnatal hypoglycemia screening for different newborn populations at risk of hypoglycemia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Breast Feeding
  • Female
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemia* / diagnosis
  • Hypoglycemia* / epidemiology
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Newborn, Diseases*
  • Ontario / epidemiology
  • Retrospective Studies