Gestational Diabetes: Risks and Complications

Gestational diabetes is a condition that occurs during pregnancy. It affects the body’s ability to turn the sugar that we get from food into energy, resulting in unusually high levels of sugar in the blood. Gestational diabetes can be managed through healthy diet, exercise and sometimes medication. Most mothers who develop gestational diabetes can give birth to healthy babies, provided their condition is monitored and treated by a health care professional.

As gestational diabetes frequently does not cause any overt symptoms in the mother, pregnant women should be routinely screened as part of their regular prenatal care. While anyone can develop gestational diabetes, certain women may be at higher risk including; overweight women, women with slightly elevated blood sugars prior to pregnancy (possibly a precursor to Type 2 Diabetes), and women with a parent or sibling with Type 2 Diabetes. Women exhibiting these risk factors should be monitored more closely by their doctors during pregnancy.

Failure to diagnose or to properly manage gestational diabetes can result in high and fluctuating blood sugars, which can cause serious complications for both mother and baby.

The risks for the baby include:

  • Death (before birth, or shortly after birth).
  • Large birth weight caused by the excess amount of sugar in the mother’s blood. This can increase the risk of birth injury, the need for delivery by cesarean section and pre-mature delivery.
  • Respiratory distress syndrome, which occurs when the baby’s lungs are not properly developed at birth.
  • Low blood sugar immediately after birth because the baby has been producing high levels of insulin to cope with the mother’s high blood sugar. This can cause seizures.
  • Development of Type 2 Diabetes in the future.

The risks for the mother include:

  • The development of high blood pressure or preeclampsia, a condition that can result in serious complications to the pregnancy and threaten the lives of both the baby and the mother.
  • While gestational diabetes usually resolves shortly after the baby is delivered, the mother is at increased risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes in the future.

If you have any concerns about gestational diabetes, consult your health care provider before you become pregnant. If you are concerned that your health care provider failed to properly diagnose or monitor your gestational diabetes, resulting in health problems for you or your baby, consult a medical malpractice lawyer. Your lawyer will help protect your legal rights and those of your child.

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