The hPOD randomised controlled trial: Preventing neonatal hypoglycaemia with oral dextrose gel

Project Code: 10350961

Faculty: Liggins Institute

Department: Liggins Institute

Main Supervisor: Dist Prof Jane Harding

Application open date: 11 Mar 2016

Application deadline: 28 Aug 2018

Enrolment information: NZ Citizens, NZ Permanent Residents, International


Preventing neonatal hypoglycaemia with oral dextrose gel (hPOD) is a multicentre randomised controlled trial, funded by the Health Research Council (HRC), which began recruiting in late 2014. Hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) is the commonest metabolic condition of the newborn. It affects up to 15% of babies, and the incidence is increasing as the risk factors such as maternal diabetes and preterm birth are becoming more common. Neonatal hypoglycaemia frequently leads to neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) admission and may cause long-term brain damage. The investigators have previously shown that oral dextrose gel is effective in reversing hypoglycaemia, halving NICU admission rates and improving rates of breast-feeding. The hPOD trial will investigate the effectiveness of dextrose gel for prevention of hypoglycaemia and its consequences. Effective prevention could reduce the occurance of brain damage, improve breast-feeding rates, improve long-term health and save money, potentially revolutionising the management of neonatal hypoglycaemia around the world.

What we are looking for in a successful applicant

Masters or Honours in a health related discipline. A clinical background would be helpful but not essential. Examples include but are not limited to neonatology, nursing, midwifery, paediatrics or obstetrics.


To determine the effectiveness of dextrose gel for prevention of hypoglycaemia in newborn babies. In particular, to determine whether treatment of babies at risk with dextrose gel soon after birth helps prevent admission to newborn intensive care and improve breastfeeding.

The PhD candidate will be involved with and learn about all aspects of coordinating a large multicentre randomised trial. This will include liasing with clinical staff in collaborating centres throughout New Zealand and be supported by the clinical trials group at the Liggins Institute.

Other information

For more information about the study, see:

For more information about the research group, see:


Some relevant publications:

  • Harris DL, Weston PJ, Signal M, Chase JG, Harding JE.  Dextrose gel for treating neonatal hypoglycaemia:  A randomized placebo-controlled trial (The Sugar Babies Study).  Lancet 382: 2077-83, 2013.  Accompanying commentary Lancet 382: 2045-2046, 2013.
  • Harris DL, Weston PJ, Harding JE.  Mothers of babies enrolled in a randomized trial immediately after birth report a positive experience.  Journal of Perinatology, 2014. doi: 10.1038/jp.2013.183
  • Harris DL, Weston PJ, Harding JE.  Incidence of neonatal hypoglycemia in babies identified as at risk.  Journal of Pediatrics 161: 787-791, 2012.  DOI: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2012.05.022.  Accompanying editorial pages 775-6.
  • Harris DL, Battin MR, Weston PJ, Harding JE.  Continuous glucose monitoring in newborn babies at risk of neonatal hypoglycaemia.  Journal of Pediatrics, 157: 198-202, 2010.  DOI: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2010.02.003.  Accompanying editorial p180-182.
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