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Hypocalcemia - infants

Alternative Names

Calcium level - low - infants

Definition

Hypocalcemia is an abnormally low blood calcium level. This article discusses low blood calcium levels in infants.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Calcium is a salt that helps the heart and muscles work. A healthy baby usually has very careful control of blood calcium levels.

Hypocalcemia is more likely to occur in newborns, especially in those who were born too early (preemies). Common causes of hypocalcemia in a newborn include:

  • Certain medications
  • Diabetes in the birth mother
  • Episodes of very low oxygen levels
  • Infection
  • Stress caused by serious illness

There are also some rare illnesses that can lead to low calcium levels, such as DiGeorge syndrome and congenital hypoparathyroidism.

Symptoms

Babies with hypocalcemia often have no symptoms. Sometimes, babies with low calcium levels are jittery or have tremors or twitching. Rarely, they have seizures.

These babies may also have a slow heart rate and low blood pressure.

Signs and tests

Diagnosis is usually made when a blood test shows that the infant's calcium levels are low.

Treatment

The baby may get extra calcium, if needed.

Expectations (prognosis)

Problems with low calcium levels in newborns or premature infants usually do not continue long-term.


Review Date: 11/7/2011
Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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