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Auckland University awards neonatal NP for top doctoral thesis.

ACCOLADES FOR Waikato neonatal nurse practitioner (NP) Deborah Harris, who is behind the life-changing "sugar babies" study, keep on coming.

Harris' thesis on neonatal hypoglycaemia has received a University of Auckland vice chancellor's prize for best doctoral thesis in 2013. Her thesis was one of just five awarded the prize, out of 321 doctoral theses completed in 2013 and one of 18 nominated for the top prize.

The study took place in Waikato Hospital's neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) where Harris works. It ran between 2008-2010 and involved monitoring the blood sugar levels of 514 hypoglycaemic babies for 48 hours after their births. It was designed to assess whether treatment with dextrose gel was more effective than feeding alone at reversing neonatal hypoglycaemia in at-risk babies (eg from pregnancies complicated by maternal diabetes, preterm birth and low birth weight).

Harris said she was humbled to receive the award, but at the same time, delighted for both the clinical and research teams she worked with.

"I have been privileged to have been taught and guided by outstanding clinicians and researchers at both Waikato Hospital and the Liggins Institute within the University of Auckland," she said.

Harris' thesis showed that dextrose gel is a safe and effective treatment that can be recommended for first-line treatment of hypoglycaemia in late preterm and term babies.

Although "incredibly honoured" by the award, Harris said the most important outcome for her was "the change in practice that the research is creating which is making such a positive difference for mothers and babies all over the world".
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Title Annotation:news & events
Publication:Kai Tiaki: Nursing New Zealand
Date:May 1, 2014
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