Ketotic Hypoglycemia

Ketotic hypoglycemia, also known as toddler’s hypoglycaemia, describes periods of low blood glucose levels (hypoglycemia) that is accompanied by ketosis.

Ketosis is a state in which the body breaks down body fat into ketones which can be used as an alternative energy source to glucose.

Ketotic hypoglycemia most commonly occurs in infants between the ages of 18 months and 5 years old. Children generally grow out of the condition and it is rare for ketotic hypoglycemia to persist in children over 9 years old.

Symptoms of ketotic hypoglycemia

Common symptoms of hypoglycemia may include:

  • Weakness and fatigue
  • A pale appearance
  • Sweating
  • Irritability
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Confusion

Symptoms which suggest pronounced ketosis include:

  • Laboured, heavy breathing
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Signs of severe hypoglycemia include:

  • Fainting
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures

Diagnosis of ketotic hypoglycemia

To diagnose ketotic hypoglycemia, the doctor will need to know:

  • What symptoms your child shows
  • When your child experiences the symptoms
  • When and how the symptoms disappear

Causes of ketotic hypoglycemia

It is not yet well understood why some children are less able to tolerate longer periods of fasting and therefore susceptible to ketotic hypoglycaemia.

Treatment of ketotic hypoglycemia

Treatment involves ensuring the child has regular meals to break up longer periods of fasting. Preventing hypoglycemia over night may include a snack before bed and may require a snack during the night as well.