Transient hypoglycemia in the early neonatal period is a common adaptive phenomenon as the newborn changes from the fetal state of continuous transplacental glucose consumption to intermittent nutrient supply following cessation of maternal nutrition at birth. Research has demonstrated that in the term, healthy newborn, this dynamic process is self-limiting and is not considered pathologic.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization recommend that neonatal blood glucose screening be reserved for newborns who are at risk or symptomatic and conclude that universal hypoglycemia screening is inappropriate, unnecessary, and potentially harmful. Nevertheless, many hospital nurseries continue the clinical practice of routine early glucose screening on healthy, term newborns. This results in the misidentification of neonates captured while experiencing the normal, self-correcting physiologic blood glucose nadir who are then diagnosed with pathologic neonatal hypoglycemia.
Subsequent to this misdiagnosis, further surveillance and unnecessary, aggressive treatment interventions will follow that are potentially harmful to the successful establishment of positive maternal-infant interactions and the breastfeeding experience.
Research studies indicate that routine hypoglycemia screens, treatments, and interventions in the healthy infant are not evidence-based and result in a serious disruption of the initiation process and duration patterns of lactation.
Using the perspective of the theory of technology dependency, this inquiry explores the potential adverse sequelae of inappropriate glucose screening in the healthy breastfeeding newborn and describes selected outcome variables including: 1) the consequences of early maternal-infant separation, 2) the influence of early formula supplementation on breastfeeding discontinuance rates, 3) the effect of separation and supplementation on the onset of lactogenesis, and 4) the impact of hospital staff and provider recommendations of formula supplementation on maternal confidence to independently nurture her baby.