Hypoglycemia and Low Blood Sugar

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What is hypoglycemia and low blood sugar?

Hypoglycemia is the state of having a blood glucose level that is too low to effectively fuel the body's cells.

Glucose, which comes from carbohydrates found in foods, is a main source of energy for all of the cells of the body and, especially, the brain. While the body is quite good at extracting glucose from the foods we eat, it relies on a hormone called insulin to actually get the glucose inside the cells of specific organs: the liver, fat and muscle.

We can think of insulin as holding the “key” to a cell — without insulin, the glucose just remains in the blood, where it’s also known as “blood sugar.” During an episode of hypoglycemia, there’s not enough glucose in the blood. The normal range is approximately 70 to 150 mg/dl (milligrams of glucose per deciliter of blood).

Hypoglycemia is most common in newborns. In older children, it’s most often seen as a complication of insulin therapy for diabetes but can sometimes have other causes as well.

In the majority of cases, hypoglycemia is temporary, easily treated and usually does not have serious consequences. There are several rare disorders in which hypoglycemia is recurrent and potentially life-threatening. However, with timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment, these can be effectively managed.

How we care for hypoglycemia

At Boston Children’s Hospital, we treat hypoglycemia in our General Endocrinology Program, a multi-disciplinary program dedicated to the treatment of a wide range of endocrinological disorders. Caring for more than 7,000 patients each year, our division is one of the largest pediatric endocrinology practices in the country. We provide state-of-the-art diagnosis, treatment and clinical management for children with hypoglycemia and related disorders.

Boston Children’s is so much more than a hospital—it’s a community of researchers, clinicians, administrators, support staff, innovators, teachers, patients and families, all working together to make the impossible possible. ”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

Boston Children's Hospital
300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115
For Patients: 617-355-6000
For Referring Providers: 844-BCH-PEDS | 844-224-7337

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