Gestational Diabetes Risks for Mother and Baby


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Many expectant parents, especially those expecting for the first time, have various worries and anxieties during pregnancy. Although many of those concerns are unnecessary because they never come to fruition, there are some pregnancy conditions that do pose significant risks to both mother and child.  One of those conditions is gestational diabetes.

What is Gestational Diabetes?

Gestational diabetes is a kind of diabetes that appears in pregnant women who have not previously been diabetic. The condition involves increased blood sugar levels in the mother’s blood. It usually resolves itself when treated properly or after the baby is born. When an expectant mother has gestational diabetes, her glucose levels are increased because the hormones that the placenta releases can impair proper insulin regulation. During a pregnancy affected by gestational diabetes, the hormones that are released improperly makes it more difficult for the mother’s body to manage her blood sugar levels.

When gestational diabetes is diagnosed and treated early, many mothers have perfectly healthy babies and there are no long-term complications for mother or baby. However, when gestational diabetes isn’t diagnosed and treated promptly, there can be serious complications to both mother and child – some that may be lifelong. That’s why testing for gestational diabetes is part of normal routine prenatal care. It’s a doctors’ responsibility to make sure that the testing is done correctly and that mothers-to-be are properly treated and monitored when they are found to have the condition.

What Are the Risks of Gestational Diabetes for Pregnant Women?

When a woman develops gestational diabetes during pregnancy, they are at risk for various severe complications, including:

  • Increased likelihood of C-section – When a mother has gestational diabetes, it can cause the baby to grow to a larger-than-normal size. Babies that weigh more than nine pounds often require a C-section to be performed because they are too big to be born vaginally. Any time a C-section is done, there are greater chances of birth injuries. 
  • Premature births – Another risk of gestational diabetes is premature labor and delivery, which can be very serious for mother and baby depending how early the delivery is.
  • Preeclampsia – Preeclampsia is a condition in the mother that causes high blood pressure. In severe cases, or when it’s not diagnosed and treated promptly, preeclampsia can cause seizures, stroke, and organ failure to the mother and the baby. Additionally, preeclampsia may cause placental abruption, reduced blood flow to the placenta, and heart and blood vessel diseases.
  • Stillbirth – Gestational diabetes can cause babies to die in the womb.
  • Type 2 Diabetes – Having gestational diabetes also raises a woman’s chances of developing Type 2 diabetes after pregnancy. The risk of having gestational diabetes in future pregnancies is also increased.

What Are the Risks of Gestational Diabetes for Babies?

Mothers are not the only ones at risk when they develop gestational diabetes. So are their babies. Here are some of the dangers that those infants face:

  • Premature Delivery – When a baby is born before the 37th week of gestation, it is considered a premature birth. The severity of the complications the baby has is typically a result of just how early it is born, and can include jaundice, respiratory problems, or even death.
  • Large birth weight – It’s fairly common for babies who are born to mothers with gestational diabetes to weigh more than is normal for their gestational age. A large birth weight not only increases the chances that a C-section will be needed, but it also increases the chances of shoulder dystocia if a vaginal birth is attempted. Shoulder dystocia occurs when the baby becomes lodged behind the mother’s pelvic bone and the doctor has to pull on the baby’s arms or use delivery instruments to assist with delivery.
  • Birth defects – Babies born to mothers with gestational diabetes are more at risk of having birth defects than other babies. This can include brain and heart defects, spina bifida, caudal dysplasia, and anencephaly.
  • Hypoglycemia – Some babies whose mothers had gestational diabetes suffer from rebound hypoglycemia after they are born. Hypoglycemia is when sugar levels in the blood are too low. Newborns with this condition are often treated with extra feedings or the administration of glucose intravenously. In serious cases, babies with hypoglycemia may have seizures due to the condition.

What Happens If Doctors Fail to Diagnose Gestational Diabetes?

Doctors have a responsibility to properly identify, diagnose, and treat any medical problems during pregnancy. When gestational diabetes is recognized and treated early, the risks to mother and baby are greatly decreased. The failure to timely diagnose gestational diabetes that causes harm to mother or baby may be found to be the responsibility of a doctor or other medical professional. When that happens, the family may be entitled to compensation through a birth injury lawsuit.

If your family has suffered injuries due to gestational diabetes not being diagnosed and properly treated, then you may be able to file a claim for the financial burden and pain and suffering it caused. At Ross Feller Casey, our experienced attorneys and on-site physicians can help you with your claim. We have handled many gestational diabetes birth injury cases and have a track record of securing large financial recoveries for families who have been affected by medical negligence or malpractice.

Contact our law office today to schedule your free case review. Let Ross Feller Casey help your family as we have helped so many others.

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