'Sugar gel' helps premature babies

premature baby Around the globe each year 15 million babies are born too soon

Related Stories

A dose of sugar given as a gel rubbed into the inside of the cheek is a cheap and effective way to protect premature babies against brain damage, say experts.

Dangerously low blood sugar affects about one in 10 babies born too early. Untreated, it can cause permanent harm.

Researchers from New Zealand tested the gel therapy in 242 babies under their care and, based on the results, say it should now be a first-line treatment.

Their work is published in The Lancet.

Sugar dose

Dextrose gel treatment costs just over £1 per baby and is simpler to administer than glucose via a drip, say Prof Jane Harding and her team at the University of Auckland.

Start Quote

This is a cost effective treatment and could reduce admissions to intensive care services which are already working at high capacity levels”

End Quote Andy Cole Bliss

Current treatment typically involves extra feeding and repeated blood tests to measure blood sugar levels.

But many babies are admitted to intensive care and given intravenous glucose because their blood sugar remains low - a condition doctors call hypoglycaemia.

The study assessed whether treatment with dextrose gel was more effective than feeding alone at reversing hypoglycaemia.

Neil Marlow, from the Institute for Women's Health at University College London, said that although dextrose gel had fallen into disuse, these findings suggested it should be resurrected as a treatment.

We now had high-quality evidence that it was of value, he said.

Andy Cole, chief executive of premature baby charity Bliss, said: "This is a very interesting piece of new research and we always welcome anything that has the potential to improve outcomes for babies born premature or sick.

"This is a cost-effective treatment and could reduce admissions to intensive care services, which are already working at high capacity levels.

"While the early results of this research show benefits to babies born with low blood sugars, it is clear there is more research to be done to implement this treatment."

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Health stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

  • French luxury Tea House, Mariage Freres display of tea pots Tea for tu

    France falls back in love with tea - but don't expect a British cuppa


  • Woman in swimming pool Green stuff

    The element that makes a familiar smell when mixed with urine


  • Plane at Shannon airportShannon's call

    The airport that hosted a roll-call of presidents


  • Female model's bottom in leopard skin trousers as she walks up the catwalkBum deal

    Why budget buttock ops can be bad for your health


BBC Future

(Thinkstock)

Why all babies love peekaboo

Lessons learned behind the laughter Read more...

Programmes

  • Tuna and avacadoThe Travel Show Watch

    Is Tokyo set to become the world's gourmet capital?

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.