Hypocalcemia (hye-poe-kal-SEE-mee-uh) is when
the level of calcium in the
blood is too low. Calcium is a mineral that the body needs to build healthy bones
and teeth. It also helps nerves, muscles, and the
heart work well. A baby with low calcium can become very sick and also have problems
with bones and nerves later if the condition isn't treated.
What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Hypocalcemia in Babies?
Symptoms of hypocalcemia depend on how low the baby's calcium is and how fast the
Some babies with hypocalcemia may have signs of rickets,
a softening of the bones.
What Causes Hypocalcemia in Babies?
Calcium in the blood can get too low if:
The baby's diet is low in calcium. This can happen if a baby
is fed homemade formula
or watered-down formula. It also can happen if babies younger than 1 year old drink
cow's milk, goat's milk,
or other types of milk. Breast
milk and store-bought infant formula are the safest for babies. They have the
right amounts of calcium and other minerals babies need.
The baby's diet is too low in vitamin D.Vitamin
D, which helps the body absorb calcium, is in store-bought infant formula. Babies
fed only breast milk need vitamin D supplements.
A hormone (chemical in the body) that controls the amount of
calcium in the blood is too low.
Rarely, newborns also can have neonatal hypocalcemia, a health
problem that causes calcium to be out of balance.
Hypocalcemia is more common in babies than in older kids. Infants born
early or born very small, who had a difficult birth, or are born to a mom with
diabetes are most at risk for it.
How Is Hypocalcemia Diagnosed?
Doctors diagnose hypocalcemia by asking questions, checking the baby, and doing
How Is Hypocalcemia Treated?
Babies with hypocalcemia symptoms will get calcium through an
IV to get bring their level back to normal. They'll get this in the hospital,
often while in the ICU. Doctors also look for the cause of the low calcium and work
to treat that.
Some babies without symptoms might have mild hypocalcemia that's found when lab
tests are done for other reasons. This can clear up on its own when the babies get
nutrition with the right amount of calcium and other minerals. Sometimes doctors might
give calcium or vitamin D as a medicine the baby can swallow.
What Can Parents Do?
Not every cause of hypocalcemia can be prevented. But giving babies the best nutrition
possible helps them get a healthy start in life. Breast milk and store-bought infant
formula have the right balance of vitamins and minerals just for babies. If you have
questions, talk with your pediatrician about the best way to feed your baby.
You know your baby best. If something doesn't seem right, or you notice any of
the symptoms of hypocalcemia, call your doctor right away.