Pediatric hypoglycemia (PH) is the medical term for low blood sugar in children. It most often affects children with diabetes, but can also affect those without the condition.

The goal of PH treatment is to bring a child’s blood sugar levels within a healthy range as quickly as possible.

This article outlines the treatment for PH, how to manage it, and more.

Pediatric hypoglycemia treatment

A child drinking fruit juice, which can help with A child with hypoglycemia.Share on Pinterest
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The first-line treatment for PH includes having the child eat or drink something that is high in sugar to bring the blood sugar levels to a healthy range.

Examples of things to eat or drink include:

If a child experiences recurrent or severe hypoglycemia, a doctor will need to diagnose the cause and provide appropriate treatment.

Meanwhile, the child will receive intravenous (IV) glucose in a hospital setting to ensure that their blood sugar levels remain stable.


Hypoglycemia is more common among children with diabetes than in those without the condition.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offer tips on helping children manage diabetes, especially while at school. These include:

  • Making a diabetes management plan: A person can work with their child’s healthcare team to develop a diabetes medical management plan (DMMP). They can then review the plan with school staff, such as the child’s principal, teachers, and school nurse. A DMMP should include information about the following:
    • the target blood sugar range
    • hypoglycemia symptoms that may be specific to the child
    • insulin or other diabetes medications
    • meal and snack plans
    • blood sugar management during sports and other physical activity
  • Making a diabetes backpack checklist: A person can create a checklist that they and their child can use daily to ensure they pack all necessary supplies into their backpack before school. Items to pack include:
    • blood glucose monitor, plus extra batteries, lancets, and testing strips
    • ketone testing supplies
    • insulin and syringes or pens
    • antiseptic wipes
    • water
    • glucose tablets or other fast-acting carbohydrates, such as fruit juice or hard candy
  • Preparing a “hypo” kit: A person can put together a box of supplies that their child can use during an episode of hypoglycemia. They can put the child’s name on the box and leave it in the school office as backup.

Symptoms of hypoglycemia in children

According to the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS), hypoglycemia symptoms in children may differ according to the severity of the condition.

If the following symptoms occur, it is best to seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Symptoms of mild to moderate hypoglycemia in children include:

Symptoms of severe hypoglycemia in children include:


The NHS also lists some potential signs of hypoglycemia to look out for in children. These include:

Common causes of low blood glucose

Children’s Hospital Colorado (CHC) lists some common causes of low blood glucose in children with diabetes as well as in children without diabetes. These are outlined below.

In children with diabetes

According to the CHC, children with type 1 diabetes have the highest risk of developing hypoglycemia.

However, children with type 2 diabetes can also develop hypoglycemia if they use medications to control their blood sugar.

Common causes of hypoglycemia in children and adolescents with diabetes include:

  • taking too much insulin, which can happen due to:
    • taking the insulin at the wrong time
    • taking the wrong kind of insulin
    • incorrectly monitoring blood glucose levels
  • missing or delaying a meal
  • not consuming enough carbohydrates
  • experiencing an episode of vomiting or diarrhea
  • taking a hot bath or shower after an insulin injection, which increases its absorption rate
  • drinking alcohol, which impairs glucose uptake
  • taking certain medications
  • having other health conditions

In children without diabetes

According to the CHC, hypoglycemia in children and adolescents without diabetes is uncommon but can happen due to the following:

Frequently asked questions

Below are some answers to frequently asked questions about hypoglycemia.

What is the 15-15 rule for hypoglycemia?

According to the CDC, the 15-15 rule is a method that helps to bring low blood sugar levels within a healthy range.

People can use this method when their blood sugar falls below 55 to 69 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL).

The 15-15 rule involves consuming 15 grams (g) of carbohydrates and waiting 15 minutes before checking blood sugar levels again. If blood sugar levels are still below the target range, a person can have another 15 g serving.

The following foods contain approximately 15 g of carbohydrates:

  • half a cup of juice or regular soda, but not sugar-free versions
  • one tablespoon of sugar, honey, or syrup
  • one dose of glucose gel
  • 3 to 4 glucose tablets, depending on the instructions

It is important to note that taking carbohydrates with fatty or fibrous foods can slow down glucose absorption.

The CDC also note that young children typically require less than 15 g of carbohydrates. A person can ask a doctor how much their child needs for the 15-15 rule.

What is the first-line treatment for hypoglycemia?

The first-line treatment for hypoglycemia is to eat or drink something that is high in sugar, such as fruit juice or candy.


Pediatric hypoglycemia (PH) is low blood sugar in children. It most often affects children with diabetes, but can also affect those without the condition.

The first-line treatment is to have the child eat or drink something that can raise their blood sugar levels quickly, such as fruit juice, hard candy, or glucose tablets.

Parents and caregivers can take steps to ensure their child receives appropriate care and support for diabetes during school hours.

Some things to consider include making and sharing a diabetes management plan, creating a diabetes backpack checklist, and leaving a “hypo” kit in the school office for emergency use.