Gestational diabetes affects the way the body handles sugar during pregnancy. It causes high blood sugar and may or may not produce symptoms. Up to 9 percent of women have gestational diabetes, estimate the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And because the condition can have serious implications for both the mother and the baby, early diagnosis, close monitoring and proper treatment are essential. Failure to diagnose gestational diabetes can cause serious health complications.
Staying Alert for Signs of Diabetes
Your OB-GYN should assess the risk of diabetes during pregnancy; it's a standard component of prenatal care. If there are risk factors or symptoms, your doctor will recommend a screening for diabetes, which begins with a glucose test. If the initial test shows high blood sugar, you likely will then undergo a glucose tolerance test.
It’s important for physicians to stay alert to any symptoms that may indicate gestational diabetes. The most common symptoms are increased thirst and urination. However, the majority of women with gestational diabetes are asymptomatic, making routine screening an essential part of a prenatal program.
When doctors carefully assess risk factors and provide adequate screening, gestational diabetes can be addressed early on, and there will be less risk of harm to the baby.
Complications for the Baby
Undiagnosed, mismanaged and untreated gestational diabetes can have serious ramifications. Below are some of the outcomes for which an infant is at risk when its mother has untreated diabetes.
- High birth weight - Babies weighing more than 9 pounds are not uncommon in women with diabetes. This can be problematic for both the mother and child, increasing the likelihood of the baby getting stuck in the birth canal. In turn, this can lead to birth injuries and an emergency Cesarean section.
- Hypoglycemia - The baby can develop hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), as well as seizures. The infant may need intravenous glucose solution.
- Preterm birth - When the mother has untreated gestational diabetes, there is a higher risk of preterm labor.
- Respiratory distress syndrome - This is a condition in which the lungs don't fully function, and the baby is unable to breathe properly. Assisted breathing may be required until the lungs mature and strengthen.
- Type 2 diabetes - Children born to mothers with gestational diabetes are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes.
- Death - Mayo Clinic explains: “Untreated gestational diabetes can result in a baby's death either before or shortly after birth.”
Complications for the Mother
Women who develop gestational diabetes have a higher risk of developing high blood pressure and preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a condition that can cause organ damage, particularly to the kidneys. “Left untreated, preeclampsia can lead to serious -- even fatal -- complications for both you and your baby. If you have preeclampsia, the only cure is delivery of your baby,” according to Mayo Clinic.
Women with gestational diabetes are also more at risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
Is a provider at fault for your or your baby’s harm?
Doctors, hospitals and other providers have a standard of care they must uphold for their patients. If a physician failed to diagnose gestational diabetes or mismanaged your care, you might have grounds to file a claim for damages. This includes current and future medical bills, lost wages, and emotional damages, such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, and depression.
If you or child suffered harm because of what you believe was your doctor’s negligence, we encourage you to call our birth injury lawyers at Cordisco & Saile LLC. Let us review your case, determine legal options and help you hold any negligent parties accountable. Contact us today at 215-642-2335 for a free consultation.