Why Is Low Blood Sugar In Babies Dangerous?


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Neonatal hypoglycemia is a condition caused when a newborn baby’s blood sugar falls to very low levels. It can result in permanent brain damage if not treated promptly. That is why proper monitoring of glucose levels is essential after babies are born. When a newborn’s glucose isn’t monitored appropriately and leads to brain damage, it may be a medical malpractice case. Additionally, if low blood sugar is detected but treatment is delayed, it may also be malpractice.

What Happens When A Baby Has Neonatal Hypoglycemia?

Hypoglycemia is defined as low glucose levels. The body produces insulin, a hormone that regulates glucose levels. If more glucose is produced than the body needs, or if there isn’t enough glucose consumed, levels will drop. When blood sugar levels get too low, there may not be enough glucose reaching the brain (and other organs). That may impair growth and cause brain cells to begin dying.

Neonatal hypoglycemia happens when a newborn baby (up to a few days old) has very low blood sugar levels. When a baby is born and no longer receives glucose from their mother through the umbilical cord, they need to get glucose from feeding. Babies who don’t get enough from feeding or have problems feeding may have to be given medication to provide glucose. It’s normal for a baby’s glucose levels to fall right after birth. However, levels typically return to a normal level after feeding.

If A Drop In Glucose Is Normal, Why Is There A Risk Of Brain Damage?

Most babies will have a dip in blood sugar levels, but they return to normal once they have been fed. The risk occurs when the baby’s glucose levels are not monitored properly and restored to safe levels promptly. When there is a delay in treatment, the baby can suffer irreversible brain damage that leaves them with developmental delays, neurological disabilities, or a seizure disorder. This can have devastating consequences for the whole family.

What Are The Signs Of Hypoglycemia In Newborns?

Symptoms of neonatal hypoglycemia aren’t always recognizable, especially early on. As a result, most hospitals perform blood glucose tests at a baby’s birth and then at specific intervals. However, if symptoms are present, they may include:

  • Weak or floppy muscles
  • Low energy
  • Blueish or white discoloration of skin and lips
  • Not interested in eating
  • Low body temperature
  • Seizures

If blood sugar continues to drop or remains low for several days, symptoms will be more severe. Fortunately, neonatal hypoglycemia is treatable. However, problems can result in lasting brain damage when there isn't prompt treatment. Doctors and nurses who identify symptoms must act quickly. Treatments may include medications, giving sugar gel, or using formula to supplement breastfeeding.

What Causes Neonatal Hypoglycemia?

The most common cause of hypoglycemia in newborns is a failure to control the mother’s diabetes during pregnancy, which may or may not be the fault of the obstetrician. Other factors that may contribute to a newborn developing low blood sugar include:

  • When mother and baby have incompatible blood types
  • Poor nutrition of the mother during pregnancy
  • Larger or smaller than normal birth weight
  • Premature births
  • Delivery complications, such as hypothermia, fetal distress, and eclampsia

How Do You Know If Neonatal Hypoglycemia Is Medical Malpractice?

Instances of neonatal hypoglycemia may be considered medical malpractice when the following occur:

  • Failure to diagnose maternal diabetes during pregnancy, so the baby can be properly monitored following birth
  • Failure to recognize weight loss or other indications of feeding problems, preventing the newborn from consuming sufficient glucose
  • Failure to provide parents with sufficient information so they can recognize feeding issues and seek medical attention
  • Failure to treat low blood sugar levels appropriately and promptly
  • Failure to identify low glucose levels in a newborn with known risk factors
  • Discharging an infant with risk factors too early

How Can Ross Feller Casey Help With Neonatal Hypoglycemia Cases?

If your child had neonatal hypoglycemia and now has brain damage, the birth injury attorneys at Ross Feller Casey can help. We will discuss what your next steps should be at no cost to you. Initial consultations are always free. If we can establish that negligence occurred and that your child suffered a brain injury as a result, then we will proceed with a claim.

Raising a child with permanent brain damage can cause financial burdens. However, compensation from this type of medical malpractice case can help with medical treatment, support, therapy, equipment, and appropriate accommodations, providing your family with peace of mind and financial security for the future.

At Ross Feller Casey, we have an unmatched history of winning large multimillion-dollar verdicts and settlements for clients who have sustained catastrophic injuries due to medical malpractice. Let us help your family. Call our office today to schedule an appointment.

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