Hypoglycemia and Learning Failure: Is Your Child Affected?

March 13, 2013 by DrDonna

hypoglycemia
Your child does not have to be diagnosed with hypoglycemia to have bouts of low blood sugar during the day. Depending on what he or she eats at meals, they could have low blood sugar that is affecting their ability to learn and concentrate.

The Link Between Hypoglycemia and Learning Failures

The human brain depends almost exclusively on one fuel: glucose from the blood. Nothing else will do. And when a child’s brain is developing, an adequate blood sugar level is a primary key to the child’s well-being. For this reason, hypoglycemia is worse for children than adults.

In a Finnish study of diabetic children between 9 and 10 years old, the researchers compared the reading, spelling and math task performances of those who had experienced severe hypoglycemia and those who avoided severe hypoglycemia. They also had a control group of children without diabetes.

All of the diabetic children had worse scores in spelling than those without diabetes, no matter if they had experienced hypoglycemia or not. The researchers found a correlation between poor control of blood sugar the first year a child was diagnosed as a diabetic and poorer spelling skills.

What are Normal and Low Blood Sugar Levels?

During digestion, glucose moves into the blood from the food you’ve eaten and the beverages you’ve drank. Healthy blood sugar level ranges from 80 to 120 mg/dl for an adult. This is the range at which the brain functions best. However, a child’s normal blood sugar levels are 70 to 99 mg/dl.

Hypoglycemia in children is diagnosed at blood sugar levels less than 70 mg/dl in children. If the blood sugar level is too low (hypoglycemia), then children can suffer from a variety of symptoms. Here is a list of some symptoms that occur during hypoglycemia in both children and adults:

  • hunger, food cravings, grabs fast food
  • headaches
  • dizziness, unsteadiness, passes out
  • anger, moodiness, taking things personally, blaming others, agitation, waking up crying, bouts of crying
  • inability to focus, unable to make decisions, confusion
  • slurred words, loss of consciousness, seizures or convulsions
  • fatigue and drowsiness
  • rapid heart rate
  • nightmares, waking up with a headache
  • shaky feelings
  • blurred vision
  • cold sweats
  • weakness

It’s easy to see how cognitive performance would be poor when children are suffering from hypoglycemia.

With this information, you should observe your children for any of these symptoms over the course of a week. Look for these symptoms when he or she wakes up in the morning, before meals, two hours after meals, when they come home from school, and before they begin their homework. Get more information on other strategies for sharpening focus offered by Gemm Learning.