How Could Gestational Diabetes Affect My Baby?


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Every expectant mother hopes to have a full-term pregnancy, smooth delivery, and a healthy newborn, and that’s exactly what many women experience. However, sometimes pregnancies and labor and delivery don’t go as planned.

This can happen for various reasons, including conditions mothers-to-be may suffer while pregnant. Unfortunately, when an expectant mother becomes ill, it can negatively affect the unborn baby in her womb. It can become even more severe if the mother’s condition goes undiagnosed or there is a delay in diagnosis by medical professionals.

Gestational diabetes is one such condition. It involves high glucose levels in the mother’s blood while pregnant. It can occur in women with no previous history of diabetes and should be tested for during pregnancy. When gestational diabetes is diagnosed and treated early, most mothers give birth to perfectly healthy babies who have no long-term conditions related to gestational diabetes. But some serious complications can occur if treatment is delayed, doctors miss the condition, or the condition is uncontrollable with treatment.

Complications That May Result from Gestational Diabetes

The complications that affect the baby of a mother with gestational diabetes vary widely in severity. Some issues are minor and resolve with time, while others are life-threatening. Some of the most common complications are:

  • Premature delivery – Pregnant women who have gestational diabetes are more likely than other expectant mothers to give birth before reaching the 37th week of pregnancy. Depending on just how early the delivery is, the baby could be healthy, could have complications like jaundice or respiratory distress, or could not survive.
  • Macrosomia – It’s very common for babies whose mothers have gestational diabetes to be larger than average for their gestational age. This is known as macrosomia, which increases the likelihood that the mother will need to have labor induced early or undergo a c-section. The infant has a higher risk of shoulder dystocia when a vaginal birth is attempted. This occurs when the baby’s large torso becomes stuck behind the mother’s pelvic bone, and the doctor has to pull on the baby or use delivery instruments (like a vacuum extractor or forceps) to deliver it.
  • Hypoglycemia – It’s common for babies of mothers who have gestational diabetes to experience rebound hypoglycemia shortly after being born. This is a condition that causes the opposite effect as diabetes does. With hypoglycemia, there are very low blood sugar levels instead of high levels of glucose in the blood. In newborns, this can be treated with frequent feedings or intravenous administration of glucose, depending on the blood sugar level. In severe cases, infants can suffer from seizures due to hypoglycemia.
  • Birth defects – There is a greater risk of congenital malformation, or birth defects, in babies whose mothers had gestational diabetes. Brain and heart defects are not uncommon. The risk of anencephaly (the absence of a major portion of the brain, skull, and scalp), spina bifida (a serious condition affecting the backbone and spine), and caudal dysplasia (a defect of the lower portion of the spine) are much higher in these infants.
  • Stillbirth – In serious cases, gestational diabetes in expectant mothers can cause them to miscarry or have a stillbirth.

Any of the above can negatively affect unborn or newborn babies, especially when early detection and treatment of gestational diabetes in their mothers is delayed. Of course, there are also risks associated with the condition for mothers, including an increased risk of gestational diabetes for any future pregnancies that would also impact the new baby.

When Are the Complications of Gestational Diabetes Medical Malpractice?

Sometimes, the complications that follow gestational diabetes in pregnant women are unfortunate and unavoidable – they simply happen, and no one is to blame. However, there are other times when doctors or other medical staff make mistakes, misdiagnose, or fail to diagnose gestational diabetes in the mother, resulting in complications during pregnancy, childbirth, or shortly after delivery. When this happens, it could be considered medical malpractice.

When Should I See a Gestational Diabetes Attorney In Pennsylvania?

The failure to properly diagnose, monitor, and treat a pregnant woman with gestational diabetes can result in severe complications for mother and child. It can result in excessive medical bills, emotional and mental distress, and pain and suffering that no family should suffer.

If you or a loved one had gestational diabetes and your baby suffered complications as a result, you may have a birth injury malpractice lawsuit. At Ross Feller Casey in Philadelphia, we have gestational diabetes lawyers and leading medical doctors onsite who are experienced and knowledgeable about the condition and its complications.

Ross Feller Casey also has a proven track record of winning gestational diabetes cases for our clients in Pennsylvania, eliminating the financial burdens they suffered due to the birth injuries their babies experienced at the hands of medical professionals.

If you are a victim of medical negligence in Pennsylvania, we can help. Please contact one of our birth injury attorneys today to schedule your free case evaluation.

Disclaimer: Ross Feller Casey, LLP provides legal advice only after an attorney-client relationship is formed. Our website is an introduction to the firm and does not create a relationship between our attorneys and clients. An attorney-client relationship is formed only after a written agreement is signed by the client and the firm. Because every case is unique, the description of awards and summary of cases successfully handled are not intended to imply or guarantee that same success in other cases. Ross Feller Casey, LLP represents catastrophically injured persons and their families in injury and wrongful death cases, providing legal representation in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.