Study examines whether a sugar gel could benefit high-risk newborn babies

11 August 2016
Sleeping baby

Pregnant women are needed to take part in the hPOD trial which is looking to improve outcomes for newborn babies at high risk of developing low blood sugar or neonatal hypoglycaemia.  

Neonatal hypoglycaemia affects around 15% of all newborn babies, but more than 50% of babies born pre-term or to diabetic mothers.  The condition can lead to brain damage and even death.

As a result of earlier research carried out at the University of Auckland’s Liggins Institute, newborns diagnosed with neonatal hypoglycaemia are now commonly treated with a sugar gel or dextrose gel.

The hPOD study takes this a step further to test whether treating “high risk” newborns with the dextrose gel soon after birth could help to prevent neonatal hypoglycaemia from developing and therefore subsequent admission to newborn intensive care.

High risk newborns are defined as those born to diabetic mothers, those born pre-term and those born small or large for gestational age.

Infants enrolled in the trial will be randomly assigned to two groups.  One group of infants will receive the dextrose gel while the others are in a control group which will receive a placebo gel.

Both gels are massaged into the cheek of the newborn soon after birth and the babies’ blood sugar levels will then be monitored.  

Professor Jane Harding says if gel works to prevent neonatal hypoglycaemia it will mean a better start for thousands of babies.

“It's an intervention that may have benefits in terms of a child's development, of keeping mums and babies together and supporting breast feeding," she says.

If you have pregnant women who may be interested in being part of the hPOD study, please contact the team on 0800 00 hPOD (0800 004 763) or email

Below are the inclusion criteria:

Babies who are at risk of hypoglycaemia, defined as satisfying at least ONE of the following:

1.       Infants of diabetic mothers (any type of diabetes)

2.       Preterm (< 37 weeks’ gestation)

3.       Small (< 2.5 kg or < 10th centile on population or customised birthweight chart)

4.       Large (> 4.5 kg or > 90th centile on population or customised birthweight chart)

AND satisfy ALL of the following:

1.       ≥ 35 weeks’ gestation

2.       Birth-weight > 2.2 kg

3.       < 1 hour old

4.       No apparent indication for NICU/SCBU admission at time of randomisation

5.       Unlikely to require admission to NICU/SCBU for any other reasons e.g. respiratory distress

6.       Mother intending to breast-feed


For more information visit the hPOD website.


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