While pregnancy is usually a time of happiness and expectation, it is also a time in which mothers-to-be have to be attentive to their health for themselves and their unborn babies. One of the most common medical conditions to affect pregnant women and their babies is gestational diabetes. When a pregnant woman develops gestational diabetes, the risk of mother and baby suffering complications increases. That’s why it’s important that expectant moms understand the medical condition, how it’s treated, and the complications that it may cause.
What is Gestational Diabetes?
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes mellitus that occurs in about seven percent of women during pregnancy. Like other types of diabetes, it affects the way the body breaks down sugar (glucose). When the body digests food, some of it is converted into glucose and it enters the bloodstream. The pancreas releases a hormone called insulin, which regulates blood sugar levels. Insulin works by moving glucose from the bloodstream into energy cells. When the body is working efficiently, glucose levels are maintained at a healthy level.
Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that only affects women during pregnancy. It typically resolves itself with the proper treatment or after the baby is born. With gestational diabetes, glucose levels are too high because hormones released by the placenta can impair insulin regulation. As the pregnancy goes on, the placenta releases more of these hormones and it becomes increasingly harder to manage blood sugar levels.
Testing of glucose levels to identify gestational diabetes is required for most pregnant women as part of routine prenatal care. It is a responsibility of doctors and other medical professionals to ensure that the testing is done properly and that women are monitored and treated properly when it’s determined that they have gestational diabetes.
What Are the Risk Factors for Gestational Diabetes?
There are some risk factors that may increase the chances that a woman will develop gestational diabetes, such as:
- Being over the age of 25
- Being overweight
- Gaining excessive weight while pregnant
- History of diabetes in the family
- Being African-American, Hispanic, Asian, or Native American, as the rates of gestational diabetes are higher among these women
- Having given birth to a baby that weighed over nine pounds previously
- Having had a stillbirth previously
- Having had gestational diabetes during a previous pregnancy
While having any of these risk factors doesn’t mean that a woman will suffer gestational diabetes for certain, they are risk factors that indicate she and her doctors should be especially mindful of any symptoms that arise so treatment can begin right away.
How Can Gestational Diabetes Lead to Birth Injuries?
Even though gestational diabetes is treatable and is usually resolved after pregnancy, there are complications that can occur that are long-term for mothers and babies when it isn’t diagnosed and treated properly. Some of the most common complications include the following:
- Premature delivery – Gestational diabetes can cause premature labor and delivery. The earlier a delivery, the greater the chances of medical complications.
- Preeclampsia – This is a condition that causes high blood pressure that can lead to stroke, seizure, and organ failure.
- Larger birth weight – Gestational diabetes in the mother can lead to bigger babies. A baby that weighs more than nine pounds increases the likelihood that a C-section will have to be performed, which increases the risk of birth injuries.
- Stillbirth – Gestational diabetes can lead to a baby dying in the womb after 20 weeks of gestation.
The complications and birth injuries that gestational diabetes can cause during pregnancy, labor, and delivery can be devastating for mother and baby. It is absolutely crucial that any complications are taken seriously and treated quickly and appropriately to prevent further injury.
If gestational diabetes isn’t diagnosed early, it can be very dangerous for pregnant women, but also for babies. Some of the complications that babies may suffer include:
- Respiratory problems
- Low blood sugar
- Heart defects
- Brain defects
Any of the above can be risky, or even life-threatening for babies, when early detection and treatment is delayed.
Has Gestational Diabetes Caused Birth Complications in Your Family?
Even though testing for gestational diabetes is becoming a more universal part of prenatal care, there are still many cases that are undiagnosed or diagnosed too late, resulting in health complications for mothers and infants.
Medical providers have a duty to address concerns, identify risk factors, perform appropriate testing, and diagnose and treat medical conditions accurately and promptly. Failure to do so can negatively affect your health and the health of your baby, and it may be a violation of your legal rights as a patient.
If your family has suffered birth injuries due to gestational diabetes, the attorneys at Ross Feller Casey can help you understand whether your rights have been violated and if you’re entitled to compensation for your damages. The firm has an unmatched record of obtaining multi-million-dollar recoveries in all types of birth injury lawsuits, including those involving gestational diabetes.
Contact our offices today to schedule your free case evaluation.