Neonatal hypoglycemia has been associated with abnormalities on brain imaging and a spectrum of developmental delays, although historical and recent studies show conflicting results. We compared the cognitive, academic, and behavioral outcomes of preterm infants with neonatal hypoglycemia with those of normoglycemic controls at 3 to 18 years of age.
A secondary analysis of data from the Infant Health and Development Program, a national, multisite, randomized controlled longitudinal intervention study of long-term health and developmental outcomes in preterm infants. Of the 985 infants enrolled in the Infant Health and Development Program, 745 infants had glucose levels recorded. Infants were stratified into 4 groups by glucose level. By using standardized cognitive, academic, and behavioral assessments performed at 3, 8, and 18 years of age, we compared groups after adjusting for intervention status, birth weight, gestational age, sex, severity of neonatal course, race, maternal education, and maternal preconception weight.
No significant differences were observed in cognitive or academic skills between the control and effected groups at any age. Participants with more severe neonatal hypoglycemia reported fewer problem behaviors at age 18 than those without hypoglycemia.
No significant differences in intellectual or academic achievement were found between preterm infants with and without hypoglycemia. A statistical difference was found in behavior at age 18, with hypoglycemic children showing fewer problematic behaviors than normoglycemic children. This difference was not clinically meaningful. Using extended outcomes, our results are consistent with previous studies that found no significant neurodevelopmental outcomes associated with neonatal hypoglycemia in preterm-born children.