Gestational diabetes is a condition that can hurt both mother and baby during pregnancy. It is a surprisingly common occurrence in pregnant women, affecting thousands in the United States every year. With proper diagnosis and timely treatment, gestational diabetes does not have to cause lasting health effects to mother or child.
It is up to the doctor to monitor a woman’s pregnancy, detect signs of gestational diabetes, and recommend the proper treatment to prevent harm. Misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, or complete failure to diagnose gestational diabetes can end badly for both. If this sounds familiar, you may be a victim of medical malpractice in Philadelphia.
If you’re concerned about a potential misdiagnosis of gestational diabetes, call our team today to schedule a free consultation with a medical malpractice attorney.
What is Gestational Diabetes?
During routine prenatal blood tests, doctors diagnose about 3–8% of all pregnant women in the United States with gestational diabetes mellitus. Unlike type 1 diabetes, gestational diabetes does not stem from a lack of insulin. Rather, it comes from hormones produced during pregnancy that make insulin less effective. There are a few reasons why this condition may occur. One is that the hormones necessary to maintain pregnancy have a blocking effect on insulin. Estrogen and cortisol can produce a contra-insulin effect beginning 20 to 24 weeks into pregnancy.
As the placenta grows, the risk of insulin resistance increases. When the production of insulin is not enough to overcome the effects of pregnancy hormones, it can cause gestational diabetes. This condition can lead to complications during pregnancy such as macrosomia and hypoglycemia. Macrosomia refers to babies born considerably larger than normal. This can occur if the mother’s blood contains too much glucose. The fetus converts the glucose into extra fat, resulting in macrosomia. Babies with macrosomia are at a higher risk of birth injuries such as shoulder dystocia and brachial plexus injuries, as well as obesity later in life.
Hypoglycemia is low blood sugar in the baby after delivery. This occurs due to withdrawal of the mother’s high blood sugar levels. If left untreated, gestational diabetes can result in early labor and delivery. Premature babies come with their own set of risks, such as infant respiratory distress syndrome. Mothers with untreated gestational diabetes can develop preeclampsia or type 2 diabetes. Preeclampsia is a serious health complication that can be life-threatening to mother and baby.
Get a Free Case Evaluation
Lawyers Focused on Your Recovery
Thousands of Successful Cases in State and Federal Courts
Expertise in Dozens of Key Personal Injury Case Areas
How Doctors Arrive at a Diagnosis of Gestational Diabetes
There are symptoms a doctor can watch for to diagnose gestational diabetes in its early stages. In the mother, gestational diabetes can cause symptoms such as infections, fatigue, blurred vision, nausea, weight loss, and increased thirst and urination. However, some mothers may not display symptoms at all. It is up to the doctor to analyze the mother’s medical history and determine whether there is a risk of gestational diabetes. If so, the doctor must order the proper tests to diagnose the condition before harm to the baby occurs.
There are factors that increase the risk of developing this condition, such as the mother being overweight, a family history of diabetes, previously giving birth to relatively large babies (babies over nine pounds,) women older than 25, race, and prediabetes. It is an obstetrician and gynecologist’s job to detect signs of gestational diabetes and recommend treatment before it causes injury to the mother or child. Upon the very first prenatal visit, doctors should screen for undiagnosed type 2 diabetes for women with risk factors.
The symptoms of gestational diabetes disappear after delivery with proper and timely treatment. Treatment may include monitoring blood glucose levels, changing diet habits, exercising regularly, and/or receiving regular insulin injections to control blood sugar.
Get a Free Consultation Over a Misdiagnosis of Gestational Diabetes
It is critical to seek help from a doctor or nurse for gestational diabetes. This is the only way to avoid potential complications from this condition. If a doctor negligently fails to diagnose gestational diabetes resulting in harm to you or your child, request legal counsel from Anapol Weiss.