Relating glucose levels in newborn babies to later developmental outcomes

Project Code: 10351383

Faculty: Liggins Institute

Department: Liggins Institute

Main Supervisor: Dist Prof Jane Harding

Application open date: 01 Jan 2016

Application deadline:

Enrolment information: NZ Citizens, NZ Permanent Residents, International


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 risk factors such as maternal diabetes and preterm birth are becoming more common. Neonatal hypoglycaemia may cause long-term brain damage, but it is not known how low the glucose levels need to be in which babies to cause damage. Further, there is some evidence that fluctuating glucose levels, and particularly low followed by high levels, are associated with adverse later development.

What we are looking for in a successful applicant

The project requires either a degree in statistics or a degree in some area of health and biomedical sciences with a strong background in statistical modelling. Experience with longitudinal data analysis would be helpful, as would strong statistical programming skills


We have data from several hundred children born at risk of neonatal hypoglycaemia, in whom we have detailed records about their blood sugar levels, and also details of their development at different ages.  The objective of this project would be to undertake a statistical modelling approach to understand the relationships between measures of blood sugar levels in the newborn period and aspects of development at different ages.  This would involve developing approaches to combining different data sets, different outcome measures at different ages, and measures of glucose variability. Statistical tools are likely to include mixed models for developmental outcomes and latent class models to characterise variation and subgroups.

Other information

Find out more about the hPOD study

Find out more about the LiFePATH research group

Some relevant publications:

McKinlay CJD, Alsweiler JM, Ansell JM, Anstice NS, Chase JG, Gamble GD, Harris DL, Jacobs RJ, Jiang Y, Paudel N, Signal M, Thompson B, Wouldes TA, Yu T-Y, Harding JE for the CHYLD Study Group.  Neonatal glycemia and neurodevelopmental outcomes at two years.  New England Journal of Medicine 373: 1507-18, 2015.  DOI:10.1056/NEJMoa1504909. 

Thomas F, Signal M, Harris DL, Weston PJ, Harding JE, Shaw GM, Chase JG and on behalf of the CHYLD Study Group.  Continuous glucose monitoring in newborn infants: How do errors in calibration measurements affect detected hypoglycaemia? Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology 8: 543, 2014.  DOI: 10.1177/1932296814524857

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.  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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