AIMS To measure the prevalence of hypoglycaemia among newborn infants in Nepal, where classic risk factors prevail, and to evaluate their importance.METHODS A cross sectional study was done of 578 term newborn infants aged 0 to 48 hours on the postnatal wards of a government maternity hospital in Kathmandu, with unmatched case–control analysis of risk factors for moderate hypoglycaemia (less than 2.0 mmol /l).RESULTS Two hundred and thirty eight (41%) newborn infants had mild (less than 2.6 mmol/l) and 66 (11%) moderate hypoglycaemia. Significant independent risk factors for moderate hypoglycaemia included postmaturity (OR 2.62), birthweight under 2.5 kg (OR 2.11), small head size (OR 0.59), infant haemoglobin >210 g/l (OR 2.77), and raised maternal thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) (OR 3.08). Feeding delay increased the risk of hypoglycaemia at age 12–24 hours (OR 4.09). Disproportionality affected the risk of moderate hypoglycaemia: lower with increasing ponderal index (OR 0.29), higher as the head circumference to birthweight ratio increased (OR 1.41). Regression expressing blood glucose concentration as a continuous variable revealed associations with infant haemoglobin (negative) and maternal haemoglobin (positive), but no other textbook risk factors.CONCLUSIONS Neonatal hypoglycaemia is more common in a developing country, but may not be a clinical problem unless all fuel availability is reduced. Some textbook risk factors, such as hypothermia, disappear after controlling for confounding variables. Early feeding could reduce moderate hypoglycaemia in the second 12 hours of life. The clinical significance of raised maternal TSH and maternal anaemia as prenatal risk factors requires further research.
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