e-Library of Evidence for Nutrition Actions (eLENA)

Treatment of hypoglycaemia in severely malnourished children

Hypoglycaemia – or low blood sugar – is a common complication in severely malnourished children. Since hypoglycaemia can rapidly lead to brain damage and death, WHO recommends immediate treatment if hypoglycaemia is suspected.

If the hypoglycaemic child is conscious and able to drink, WHO recommends giving glucose or sucrose followed by small and frequent carbohydrate-based feedings. If the child is unconscious, glucose should first be given intravenously, followed by glucose or sucrose by nasogastric tube. When the child regains consciousness, small and frequent carbohydrate-based feedings should start.

In all cases, WHO recommends giving broad-spectrum antimicrobials to treat serious systemic infection.

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Last update:

25 March 2014 13:29 CET

Category 3 intervention

Available evidence is limited and there are no recent guidelines yet available that have been approved by the WHO Guidelines Review Committee

Biological, behavioural and contextual rationale