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Breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact as non-pharmacological prevention of neonatal hypoglycemia in infants born to women with gestational diabetes; a Danish quasi-experimental study.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the effect on infant blood glucose levels of an intervention consisting of early, frequent breastfeeding and two hours of immediate uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact following birth of term infants born to mothers with diet-treated gestational diabetes (GDM).

STUDY DESIGN: Quasi-experimental study design with a historical control group (n = 132) and an intervention group (n = 401) testing a procedure to prevent neonatal hypoglycemia.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Data collection on blood glucose levels, hypoglycemia incidence with a cut-off of <2.5 mmol/l, breastfeeding within the first two hours after birth, breastfeeding frequency within the first six hours, and amount of formula given to hypoglycemic infants.

RESULTS: Mean blood glucose levels in the intervention group at two and four hours were within safe limits: 3.37 mmol/l (95% CI: [3.30, 3.44]) and 3.40 mmol/l (95% CI: [3.34, 3.46]), respectively. Infants suffering a hypoglycemic event within four hours after birth decreased from 22.7% (n = 30/132) in the control group to 10.2% (n = 41/401) in the intervention group. The mean number of breastfeeds in the intervention group (six hours) was 2.41 compared to 1.34 in the control group (seven hours), an increase of 80%. Only 41 of 401 infants in the intervention group were interrupted in immediate interaction with their mother because of hypoglycemia. We failed to obtain sufficient data on skin-to-skin contact.

CONCLUSION: Maintaining skin-to-skin contact for infants of mothers with diet-treated GDM, monitoring blood glucose levels until obtaining two values >2.4 mmol/l and encouraging early frequent breastfeeding is a safe strategy to prevent hypoglycemia.

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