Neonatal Hypoglycaemia and Visual Development: A Review

Nabin Paudel, Arijit Chakraborty, Nicola Anstice, Robert J Jacobs, Jo E Hegarty, Jane E Harding, Benjamin Thompson
Neonatology 2017, 112 (1): 47-52

BACKGROUND: Many newborn babies experience low blood glucose concentrations, a condition referred to as neonatal hypoglycaemia (NH). The effect of NH on visual development in infancy and childhood is of interest because the occipital lobes, which include the primary visual cortex and a number of extrastriate visual areas, may be particularly susceptible to NH-induced injury. In addition, a number of case series have suggested that NH can affect eye and optic nerve development.

OBJECTIVE: To review the existing literature concerning the effect of NH on the visual system.

METHODS: A PubMed, Embase, Medline, and Google Scholar literature search was conducted using prespecified MeSH terms.

RESULTS: The literature reviewed revealed no clear evidence for an effect of NH on the development of the eye and optic nerve. Furthermore, occipital and occipital-parietal lobe injuries following NH often occurred in conjunction with comorbid conditions and were not clearly linked to subsequent visual dysfunction, possibly due to difficulties in measuring vision in young children and a lack of studies at older ages. A recent, large-scale, prospective study of NH outcomes at 2 years of age found no effect of mild-to-moderate NH on visual development.

CONCLUSION: The effect of NH on visual development is unclear. It is currently unknown whether NH affects visual function in mid-to-late childhood when many visual functions reach adult levels.

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