Gestational diabetes affects thousands of pregnant women in the United States each year. Not only does the mother have an increased risk for health complications, gestational diabetes creates an increased risk for health issues and birth injuries to her baby. While there are a variety of ways to help treat this type of diabetes, it’s vital for your doctor to stay vigilant and mitigate or avoid unnecessary pregnancy complications.
Complications for the Infant
If gestational diabetes isn’t properly treated or left completely unchecked, there are a variety of health complications that can affect the baby, both during the pregnancy as well as for the rest of the child’s life:
- Preterm labor and birth: When a mother has gestational diabetes, she is at risk of going into labor before her due date because of increased blood sugar. In some cases, especially if the infant is large, the doctor may recommend inducing labor for an early delivery. Early births increase the risk of the baby experiencing respiratory distress syndrome, a condition that makes it difficult for the baby to breathe. A baby may require assistance breathing until her lungs become strong enough to breathe normally. In fact,mothers with gestational diabetes have an increased risk of giving birth to a baby with respiratory distress syndrome, even if the baby is born on time.
- Large birth weight: The extra glucose in a mother’s bloodstream caused by gestational diabetes can trigger the baby’s pancreas to make too much insulin, which can cause the infant to grow too large, also known as fetal macrosomia. Infants that weigh in excess of 9 pounds have an increased chance of sustaining a birth injury or requiring a cesarean delivery (C-section).
- Hypoglycemia: Mothers with gestational diabetes have an increased risk of giving birth to a baby with hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, due to their high insulin production. In severe cases, babies with hypoglycemia can suffer from seizures if not treated immediately.
- Type 2 diabetes: Infants whose mothers suffered from gestational diabetes have an increased risk of becoming obese and developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
Complications for the Mother
- Diabetes: While gestational diabetes may go away after pregnancy, it increases a mother’s risk of suffering from it again in future pregnancies. It also increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life. The risk of developing type 2 diabetes can be reduced by eating healthy and exercising consistently; mothers with a history of gestational diabetes who maintain a healthy lifestyle after delivery have a less than 25 percent chance of developing type 2 diabetes as they get older, according to the Mayo Clinic.
- Preeclampsia and high blood pressure: Gestational diabetes increases the mother’s risk of high blood pressure and preeclampsia, a pregnancy complication that both causes high blood pressure as well as serious, and potentially fatal, complications for both the mother and infant.
There are a variety of tests and treatments your doctor may recommend in order to ensure your safety and the safety of your child:
- Monitor blood sugar levels: In order to keep your blood sugar at healthy levels, your doctor may ask you to monitor your blood sugar multiple times per day – when you wake up in the morning, after each meal, and before you go to bed.
- Diet: While losing weight during your pregnancy is not advisable, eating healthy portions of the right kinds of food is one of the most effective ways to control your blood sugar levels and keep them in a healthy range. Your doctor may refer you to a dietician to develop a plan that works best for you.
- Exercise: Be sure to talk with your doctor about what kind of exercise regimen is the best for you. Staying in shape, whether it’s through walking, swimming, or any other type of exercise, will both keep you healthier and help you manage your gestational diabetes.
- Medication: Sometimes diet and exercise alone aren’t enough to manage your blood sugar levels. Approximately 10 to 20 percent of mothers with gestational diabetes require insulin injections or other kinds of oral blood sugar control medication.
While keeping yourself healthy will help manage your gestational diabetes, your doctor needs to constantly monitor your baby as it grows in order to ensure a healthy delivery. If your doctor fails to properly monitor you and your baby during pregnancy, severe health complications, birth injuries, or even death can result. If your baby suffered from adverse effects due to your doctor’s negligence, you may be able to file a claim against them in order to get the compensation you need. Contact our medical malpractice and birth injury attorneys at Power Rogers today for a free case evaluation, or call us at 312-500-1792 to set up a meeting with one of our lawyers.