Gestational diabetes is a condition that is acquired during pregnancy that poses significant threats to the health of the unborn child and can cause serious lasting conditions. It usually occurs at around the 24th week of pregnancy in women over the age of 25 who are overweight. Although it can affect women who have never had a previous diagnosis of diabetes, it's more likely to become an issue for those who have had gestational diabetes in a prior pregnancy. Obstetricians should screen for risk factors and administer appropriate tests so that a course of treatment can be prescribed. Gestational diabetes can usually be treated with diet and exercise, and women with the condition should monitor their blood glucose levels at least four times each day. Glucose levels must also be checked frequently during labor and delivery.
Following are five possible scenarios caused by undiagnosed gestational diabetes
High blood sugar levels in the mother increase the risk of early labor. Babies whose lungs have not yet fully developed run the risk of experiencing respiratory distress if born too early. Some babies born to mothers with gestational diabetes experience difficulties with their lungs even if they are not born prematurely. Premature babies are also at risk for developing infections because their immune systems are not yet fully developed, making it difficult for them to fight off viruses and bacteria. Babies born too early also have not yet developed adequate body fat, making it difficult for their systems to maintain optimal body heat. Jaundice and hemorrhaging of the brain are also associated with premature birth.
Excessive Birth Weight
Another potential result of undiagnosed gestational diabetes is excessive birth weight. Too much glucose in the mother's blood can stimulate the baby's pancreas, resulting in the production of excess insulin and consequent weight gain in utero. Officially known as fetal macrosomia, this condition poses several serious health risks for both mother and child, including the following:
- Birth injuries due to the baby getting wedged in the birth canal
- Uterine rupture, which will require an immediate C-section
- Metabolic syndrome, which is a variety of related disorders that may affect children who were born to mothers with gestational diabetes. Disorders include elevated cholesterol levels, increased body fat around the waist, and increased blood sugar and blood pressure levels.
Children who experience fetal macrosomia may also be more likely to develop childhood obesity.
Babies that are born to mothers with gestation diabetes sometimes develop a condition known as hypoglycemia shortly after delivery. This condition causes low blood sugar and can result in seizures. It may be necessary for glucose to be administered intravenously in order to restore the baby's blood sugar to normal levels. However, when the obstetrician has failed to diagnose the mother with gestational diabetes, valuable time may be lost attempting to determine the cause of the seizures.
A number of birth defects are believed to be associated with gestational diabetes. Developing organs can be adversely affected by elevated glucose levels. Possible birth defects include heart defects as well as disruption of the development of the neural tube, which is the beginning of the body's central nervous system in the fetus.
High Blood Pressure
Women with diabetes are more likely to develop high blood pressure than their counterparts with normal glucose levels. This can lead to a condition called preeclampsia, which may result in a variety of issues for both the baby and the mother. It may result in strokes or seizures in the mother during labor and can also be a cause of premature birth.
Because gestational diabetes commonly has no noticeable symptoms, it's very important that those with risk factors are carefully screened during pregnancy. If your baby is experiencing certain health conditions that you suspect may be due to undiagnosed gestational diabetes, you should schedule an appointment with a qualified medical malpractice attorney to explore your possible options or click for more info.