How Gestational Diabetes Impacts Mother and Fetus
When you are pregnant it is critical that your obstetrician monitor you and your fetus for many different conditions. One condition for which the doctor must watch is gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes is when a woman, who did not previously have diabetes, develops it while pregnant. This form of diabetes is not permanent, however, if you develop high blood sugar during pregnancy, you are likely to develop full blown diabetes in the future. Unfortunately, any kind of diabetes puts both you and your fetus at risk. This is why it is critical for your doctor to properly monitor your insulin levels throughout your pregnancy. Failure to do so can lead to serious medical issues for both you and your baby, including and up to death. Given the risks, failure to monitor for and properly help you manage gestational diabetes is often medical malpractice.
Risks for Mother and Baby
If you develop gestational diabetes and it is not properly managed, both you and your baby face increased risks of serious health problems.
Risks for the baby include:
- Your baby can be overly large. This makes delivery much more dangerous for both mother and fetus.
- Birth defects.
- Death of baby.
- Increased chance of obesity in child.
- Increased chance of diabetes in child.
Risks for the mother include:
- Worsening of pre-existing eye, kidney, heart, or nerve problems.
- Preterm birth.
- Frequent infections.
- Gum disease.
- Physical injuries from delivering a large baby.
- Necessity for a c-section.
- High blood pressure.
- Preeclampsia. This is a serious condition leading to high blood pressure and damage to organs in the mother. It can be deadly.
What Causes Gestational Diabetes?
During pregnancy, your body becomes more resistant to insulin than normal. This provides more glucose to nourish your fetus. In most cases, this isn’t a problem. But sometimes, the pancreas cannot keep up with this increased demand and your blood sugar levels will become too high. This is what causes gestational diabetes.
Increased Chances for Gestational Diabetes
Some women are at greater risk for developing diabetes while pregnant. You are at greater risk if:
- Overweight (especially obese)
- Family history of any type of diabetes
- Previously given birth to an infant weighing more than 9 lbs
- Over 25
- Certain races (African-American, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic or Latino, Pacific Islander all have increased risk)
- Have prediabetes (impaired glucose tolerance)
Obstetricians should watch all pregnant women closely for gestational diabetes. However, it doesn’t hurt to be aware if you are at greater risk. If you are, your doctor should be even more attentive than they would be for a woman at lower risk.
According to Johns Hopkins, doctors should begin screening for undiagnosed diabetes at the first prenatal visit, especially if you have increased risks factors. If you did not have diabetes during your first visit, testing should begin again around 24-28 weeks of gestation.
Treatment of Gestational Diabetes
Your doctor will work with you to determine the best course of treatment for your diabetes. This will depend on:
- Your own history
- The seriousness of the disease
- How you tolerate various medications
Generally, diabetes during pregnancy is treated with:
- Glucose monitoring
Standard of Care to Diagnose and Manage Diabetes During Pregnancy
All doctors, including obstetricians, are expected to follow a proper medical standard of care. If your doctor failed to diagnose your diabetes, failed to diagnose it in a timely fashion, or did not properly treat you once you received your diagnosis, and you or your baby were injured as a result, we may be able to help you. If your baby developed cerebral palsy due to a difficult birth, the costs of medical treatment through their life will be substantial. The same is true with many other medical conditions you or your baby might experience due to medical malpractice by your doctor. You should not be forced to bear these costs alone. If the worst occurred, and you lost your baby or your wife passed away, we can fight for justice on your behalf under wrongful death laws.