Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy in women who don't otherwise have the diabetes. Marked by high maternal blood sugar—which can have serious consequences for both mother and child—gestational diabetes is a factor in between 2 and 10 percent of pregnancies in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Pregnancy hormones sometimes impair a body's ability to use insulin effectively, resulting in insulin resistance and elevated blood sugar levels.
While some rise in post-meal blood sugar is normal during pregnancy, women with gestational diabetes have sustained high blood sugar levels, which increase their risk of complications such as high blood pressure and preeclampsia, as well as the future development of type 2 diabetes.
Unfortunately, the consequences of undiagnosed or untreated gestational diabetes can also negatively affect the child, putting him or her at greater risk for conditions such as:
- Preterm birth and respiratory distress syndrome. High maternal blood sugar or the size of the baby may require an early birth. Babies born at 37 weeks gestation or earlier may not have fully developed lungs, which can lead to difficulty breathing.
- Excessive birth weight. Elevated maternal blood sugar levels essentially overfeed the baby, which can cause it to grow quite large, raising the risk of brachial plexus injuries or shoulder dystocia, or necessitate an emergency C-section.
- Low blood sugar after birth. The baby's pancreas creates an excess of insulin to make up for the mother's high blood sugar levels. After birth, there's no need for this excess insulin, which can cause the baby's blood sugar to plummet.
- Obesity or type 2 diabetes later in life. Babies born to mothers who had gestational diabetes are more likely to develop obesity or type 2 diabetes as adults.
- Death shortly before or after birth. Although a rare consequence, it's a shocking tragedy because a proper diagnosis would have prevented this outcome.
Testing for gestational diabetes is a standard part of routine prenatal care. Doctors who fail to diagnose or treat this dangerous condition may potentially be liable for the harm that results.
Consult an Experienced Birth Injuries Lawyer
If you or your child suffered a birth injury due to undiagnosed or untreated gestational diabetes, you may have grounds for a personal injury claim or lawsuit, and be entitled to compensation.
Contact the Accident and Injury Law Group today to schedule an appointment for a free initial review of your case. Our knowledgeable attorneys can help you understand your rights and explore your legal options.