Liggins Institute

hPOD Study

The hPOD study is trying to find out if giving a dextrose (sugar) gel to at-risk babies can stop their blood sugars going too low when they are born.

Low blood sugar levels are a common problem in newborn babies. Sometimes, if blood sugar levels get very low, this can cause brain damage. That is why all babies at risk of low blood sugar levels have blood tests to check their sugar levels and are treated if their levels are low. Treatment can often include the baby going to a Special or Intensive Care Baby Unit.

What is the hPOD study?

hPOD is a study that is trying to find out if giving a dextrose (sugar) gel to at-risk babies can stop their blood sugars going too low, and therefore avoid the need to go to a Special Care Baby Unit and making it easier for mum to breastfeed.

hPod Logo with TAG White circle

How can I find out more?

If you are pregnant and have some form of diabetes, or if you have been told that your baby may be born early, small or large for age, and this study sounds interesting to you, we would love your help.

To register your interest or simply to have a chat about the study, please email us on or call 0800 00 4763 (0800 00 hPOD).

You can also register your details using our simple contact form and one of the team will get back to you.


Which babies are at risk of low blood sugar levels?

Babies who have a higher risk of having low blood sugar levels are:

•    Babies whose mothers have diabetes
•    Babies who are born early
•    Babies who are born small or large for their age


What happens if I take part in the study?

Your baby will receive exactly the same care as all other babies born at risk of low blood sugars, including regular blood tests to check baby’s blood sugar levels are okay (no extra blood tests!). If baby’s blood sugar levels are low, he/she will be treated in the usual way at your hospital.

If you choose to enrol you baby in this study, you will be encouraged to breast feed your baby as normal, and they will also receive one of two gel solutions. One gel is a 40% sugar gel and the other is a placebo gel with no sugar. The gel will be rubbed into the inside of your baby’s cheek one hour after birth.

We will also phone you when your baby is three days and six weeks old to find out how  he/she is feeding.

Will taking part in the study interfere with breastfeeding?

No, we are only asking mums who want to breastfeed to take part in this study. You will be able to breastfeed your baby before and after the gel is given, and then to continue as usual.

Sleeping baby

What are the benefits and risks for my baby?

Your baby may benefit from this study if the gel helps to keep their blood sugar levels normal and prevents them needing further treatment in a Special Care Baby Unit. We don’t expect the study to cause any harm to your baby. The sugar gel is used to treat babies who already have low blood sugar levels without any problems.

What if I change my mind?

Taking part in the study is voluntary (your choice). If you do agree to take part you are free to withdraw your baby from the study at any time without giving a reason. This won’t affect your baby’s healthcare in any way.

Follow-up at two years

We will contact you when your baby is around two years old. This is to find out whether the gel has helped your baby’s later health and development. We will tell you about any extra studies at the time and ask for your consent for your baby to take part.


Where can I take part in the study?

You can take part in the study if you are planning on giving birth at any of the following hospitals:

•    Auckland City Hospital, Auckland
•    Hawkes Bay Hospital, Hastings
•    North Shore Hospital, Auckland
•    Southland Hospital, Invercargill
•    Tauranga Hospital, Tauranga
•    Waikato Hospital, Hamilton
•    Whakatane Hospital, Whakatane
•    Whangerei Hospital, Whangerei
•    Women's & Children's Hospital, Adelaide

We also have local Maori Research Advisors at each of the hospitals we work with.

Other hospitals are still joining the study, so contact us if your hospital isn’t yet on the list.


Where can I find out more?

Read a detailed overview of the hPOD study.

Watch an interview with Professor Jane Harding talking about the study

Email the hPOD team on or call 0800 00 4763 (0800 00 hPOD) to chat about the study.


hPOD Parent Information flyer
hPOD Parent Information flyer (103.9 kB, PDF)
hPOD Parent Information brochure - Mandarin
hPOD Parent Information brochure - Mandarin (352.2 kB, PDF)
HPod Liggins study spotlight