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Treatment at Kish supports moms who choose to breastfeed

Gel helps keep newborns' blood sugar at healthy level

DeKALB – Destiny was born with hypoglycemia, yet she didn't miss out on bonding time with her mom, Jessica Perry, thanks to an additional treatment option at Kishwaukee Hospital.

Perry’s second daughter, now five weeks old, was administered glucose gel in her cheek though an oral syringe, allowing her low blood sugar to rise to a normal level.

The gel is offered as an alternative treatment to an IV injection or formula and is part of the hospital’s efforts to support moms’ feeding choices and maintain “baby-friendly” practices.

“Right now, I’m bottle feeding and breastfeeding,” said Perry, of DeKalb. “They just tried it on her, and it worked.”

OB Manager Tammi Johnson and lactation counselor Rhonda Sullivan said they noticed a trend during the summer last year that several babies were at risk for hypoglycemia; factors such as a mom with gestational diabetes or a birth weight that’s above or below average increase the risk.

They had read an article in a professional magazine about glucose gel around the same time, so they decided to meet with the hospital’s physicians and pharmacists to develop a protocol to implement the treatment, Johnson said.

“We’re always looking at ways to improve the care to our moms and babies,” she said.

Sullivan said about five or six babies have received the treatment since the hospital started offering it in June.

The glucose gel treatment also aligns the hospital’s baby-friendly designation through the World Health Organization and UNICEF’s Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative. Kishwaukee and Valley West hospitals are two of 13 in Illinois to be designated as baby-friendly.

The initiative started in 1991 to encourage and recognize hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for infant feeding and mother/baby bonding, according to the Baby-Friendly USA website.

Sullivan said the Baby-Friendly designation includes abiding by the International Code of Marketing Breastmilk Substitutes, which restricts formula advertising, so the benefits of breastfeeding are fairly promoted.

“They recognized that formula marketing had an unfair advantage because it was infiltrated into the hospital, into the labor and delivery and postpartum settings,” Sullivan said. “[Formula companies] would hand out free bags to parents and put formula supplements in there, despite the fact that they chose to breastfeed.”

Though other treatment methods are safe, taking a baby away from mom to receive an IV injection disrupts bonding time, and treating it with formula conflicts with some moms’ plans to exclusively breastfeed, Sullivan said.

“In the past, if a baby that was at risk for their blood sugars dropping had in fact become hypoglycemic, we would have to, after we educated the mom about the benefits of breastfeeding, then turn around and say, ‘Well now maybe your baby needs some formula in order to reverse the effects of this hypoglycemia,’ or ‘Your baby may have to go to the nursery to get an IV,’ which would be an invasive line,” she said.

Perry said she didn’t know the proper techniques for breastfeeding when she had her first daughter, Harmony, now 3.

“They gave me a lot of knowledge on breastfeeding,” Perry said. “With my first daughter, I didn’t have that; she was delivered in Chicago. So, I really appreciated that.”

Support for moms at any stage of the breastfeeding process is available in the hospital’s Breastfeeding Center, Johnson said.

“Even if you delivered at another hospital, even if she delivered in another state and is visiting somebody in DeKalb, and she has breastfeeding questions or problems, she can call the center and have a free appointment, so it’s a community benefit,” Johnson said.

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