The research was carried out at the University’s Liggins Institute and at Waikato Hospital in Hamilton where PhD student and Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Deborah Harris recruited the families involved.
The study ran between 2008-2010 and saw the blood sugar levels of 514 hypoglycaemic babies monitored for 48 hours after their births.
The Sugar Babies Study was designed to assess whether treatment with dextrose gel is more effective than feeding alone at reversing neonatal hypoglycaemia in at-risk babies (e.g. from pregnancies complicated by maternal diabetes, preterm birth, and low birthweight).
Hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose concentration) is a risk factor for brain injury if not properly and efficiently managed.
The research findings showed that the simple use of dextrose gel rubbed into the inside of the baby’s mouth, meant that the babies were more likely to remain with their mothers rather than being admitted to the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for treatment.
It also meant that they were more likely to be successfully breast fed after discharge.
The research was led by Professor Jane Harding from the University of Auckland, with Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Deborah Harris and Neonatal paediatrician and Auckland University’s Waikato Clinical School of Medicine clinical senior lecturer Dr Phil Weston.