From Madison, Wisconsin, USA:
Why does cornstarch help my son with his insomnia if his blood sugars are not going low? My 11-month-old had seizures and a stroke at day three of life due to very severe hypoglycemia (his blood sugar was 3 upon arrival at the Emergency Room!) He spent three weeks in the PICU and, after extensive testing (blood, urine, biopsies, etc.), we have not found a cause. He has also not presented with hypoglycemia again, but we are diligent about feeding him during the day,, every 3 to 4 hours, and also give him one bottle at night around midnight or 1 a.m. Recently, after several abnormal EEGs and a sleep study showing abnormal brain activity during REM sleep, he was put back onto anti-seizure medications. When that did not help his nighttime sleep, we tried cornstarch in his nighttime bottle, and he only woke up once the whole night (for the first time in his life - usually he was waking 9 or 10 times per night - often very upset and irritable). The next night, we stopped the cornstarch to test his blood sugar for a few nights, and he never dropped below 102 mg/dl [5.7 mmol/L] and was in the 110s mg/dl [6.1 to 6.5 mmol/L] in the morning. Since then, we've tried cornstarch again and he's sleeping great, only waking one to three times per night, and resettling easily. Why is this? Is his body hypersensitive to changes in blood glucose, or is there something else wrong we should be looking for that would cause his body to not send the blood sugar to his brain as needed?
It does not sound like diabetes and if you have checked blood glucose levels overnight on multiple occasions and these are all normal, it does not sound like hypoglycemia. There are some examples of glycogen storage disorders in which cornstarch is used to provide some steadier and prolonged overnight energy, thus helping to prevent hypoglycemia, but this would be expected to show some actual hypoglycemia. So, I am afraid that I do not have a very good explanation for you with the information you provided except to suggest you go back to your medical team and ask these same questions since they would know what other tests already have been done or need to be repeated. In a completely nonscientific realm, however, cornstarch is a relatively benign treatment and if it clinically helps, then seems okay to continue.
Last Updated: Tuesday April 17, 2012 17:28:03
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