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Identification and management of neonatal hypoglycaemia in the full-term infant (British Association of Perinatal Medicine—Framework for Practice)
  1. Ilana Levene1,
  2. Dominic Wilkinson2
  1. 1 Neonatal Unit, Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading, UK
  2. 2 Newborn Care Unit, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ilana Levene, Neonatal Unit, Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading RG1 5AN, UK; ilana.levene{at}

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Hypoglycaemia was the third most common reason for admission of term babies to neonatal units in England in the period 2011–2013.1 Of those babies admitted with ‘hypoglycaemia’, one-third had a blood glucose level higher than the WHO threshold of 2.6 mmol/L, while half did not require intravenous dextrose.1 These findings suggest that a significant number of babies may be separated from their mothers inappropriately. There is also significant variability in defining at-risk groups and intervention thresholds.1 Guidance should seek to minimise the risk of potentially devastating brain injury that can result from severe neonatal hypoglycaemia, without exposing large numbers of babies to the harm of unnecessary interventions, separation from their mothers and neonatal unit admission.

The British Association of Perinatal Medicine published its framework for identification and management of hypoglycaemia in term newborns in April 2017.2 The working group was made up of neonatologists, midwives, an infant feeding coordinator, officers from National Health Service Improvement and the Unicef Baby Friendly Initiative and a parent representative. They reviewed published literature and used national audit data and themes arising from cases of litigation to formulate the guidance. Professional consensus was used when there was insufficient evidence.

Previous guidelines

There are many consensus guidelines covering neonatal hypoglycaemia including WHO guidance (1997),3 an American Academy of Pediatrics clinical report (2011)4 and the 2015 National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guideline5 (table 1).

View this table:
Table 1

Key guidance prior to BAPM framework for practice

What does the guideline recommend?

Prevention of hypoglycaemia in at-risk babies

Newborns at risk of hypoglycaemia are identified in box 1. They should be managed proactively to prevent hypoglycaemia. This includes providing thermal care, regular monitoring and intensive breastfeeding support with a maximal feed interval of 3 hours. The first feed should be offered within the first hour of life and the first blood glucose level checked before the …

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  • Funding None declared.

  • Competing interests IL is a trustee of a small charity providing community breastfeeding support (Oxfordshire Breastfeeding Support).

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

  • Correction notice This paper has been amended since it was published Online First. There are 2 companion papers to go with this article and they have now been added. To access them click on the links in the gutter of the first page.

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