Dr leads newborn research
By Doug Laing
The fight against a significant cause of brain-damage among infants has been taken to the coalface with new research aimed at preventing hypoglycaemia in newborns, headed by a paediatrician at Hawke’s Bay Hospital.
Dr Marc Oliver Grupp, who trained in his native Germany, is carrying out the research with the help of a $27,165 grant from the Hawke’s Bay Medical Research Foundation, which has invested close to $3 million in medical health research over the past 55 years.
More than 2000 newborns throughout the country, selected pre-natally with parental consent, are expected to be part of the projected three-year study. Of about 500 babies born each year at Hawke’s Bay Hospital, 20 per cent or more may be able to be recruited for the research.
The testing will be done by massaging gel into the inner cheek of the newborn and monitoring outcomes.
It will compare oral dextrose gel with placebo for prevention of hypoglycaemia (low blood-sugar) in babies born at risk, chosen from infants who have diabetic mothers, or where the babies are pre-term (up to 37 weeks ), or regarded as small or large.
Hypoglycaemia is the commonest metabolic condition of the newborn, Dr Oliver Grupp says. “It affects up to 15 per cent of babies, and the incidence is increasing as risk factors such as maternal diabetes and pre-term birth are becoming more common.”
“Neonatal hypoglycaemia frequently leads to neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) admission and may cause long-term brain damage. There are currently no evidence-based strategies to prevent hypoglycaemia and its adverse consequences.”
He says oral dextrose has been effective in reversing hypoglycaemia.
Photo caption – CHILD STUDY: Dr Marc Oliver Grupp, left, research nurse Melissa Spooner, clinical charge nurse Michelle Robertson and Hawke’s Bay Medical Research Foundation director and retired consultant paediatrician David Barry QSO at the Hawke’s Bay Hospital’s SCBU, the base for new research into prevention of hypoglycaemia in newborns.