What Is Gestational Diabetes?
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that affects women during pregnancy. Diabetes is a condition where there is too much glucose (sugar) in the blood.
The amount of glucose in the blood is usually controlled by a hormone called insulin, but during pregnancy, some women have higher than normal levels of glucose in their blood and cannot produce enough insulin to transport it all into the cells, meaning blood sugar levels rise.
What Are Gestational Diabetes Symptoms?
Unfortunately, gestational diabetes symptoms often do not present at all, meaning sufferers are dependent on the medical professional responsible for their care to diagnose it during routine testing.
Nonetheless, the high blood glucose caused by diabetes (hyperglycaemia) can cause some symptoms, including:
- being thirsty
- having a dry mouth
- needing to urinate frequently
- recurrent infections, such as thrush (a yeast infection)
- blurred vision
What Complications May Be Caused By Gestational Diabetes?
If quick diagnosis and accurate treatment is not provided for women suffering from gestational diabetes, a number of complications may develop which may ultimately result in a stillbirth.
Pregnant women with gestational diabetes left to progress tend to have larger babies at birth, which can increase the chance of delivery trauma. Pregnant women with gestational diabetes will frequently be offered a caesarean section. If labour management is not transferred to a caesarean section in a timely manner, distress may be caused to the baby who may become starved of oxygen. When oxygen starvation is severe enough, Cerebral Palsy (brain damage due to low or absent oxygen) may result. The baby is also more likely to have periods of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) or general illness during the first few days of their life and should receive careful and vigilant monitoring from a hospital team.
It is therefore imperative that gestational diabetes is diagnosed promptly and accurately, so treatment may be applied to minimise these complications. Most women have a pregnancy which is mostly without issue if the condition is diagnosed soon enough and their blood sugar levels are properly managed. Where this does not occur, a claim for medical negligence compensation may be made.
How Should Gestational Diabetes Be Diagnosed?
Diagnosing gestational diabetes should be a fairly straightforward matter. The two methods used by specialists are screening and testing. During the first antenatal appointment with a midwife or GP, which takes place around weeks 8-12 of a pregnancy, the GP or midwife should find out if the woman is at increased risk of gestational diabetes. They should ask about any risk factors which may be present, such as whether there is a family history of diabetes – a process known as screening.
Gestational diabetes should then be detected by using an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT, known as a ‘diabetes test’) at 24-28 weeks. For an OGTT, a blood sample should be tested, and a glucose drink provided. Another sample of blood should then be taken two hours later to see how the body is dealing with the glucose – symptoms of diabetes are confirmed where high levels of glucose are still present in the blood. Where a GP or midwife is unable to diagnose quickly using these methods at the times required, and complications are caused, a claim for medical negligence compensation may be made.
How Should Gestational Diabetes Be Treated?
If gestational diabetes is suspected, advice about monitoring and controlling your blood glucose (sugar) levels should be provided. For many women, a change of diet and increased physical exercise will be enough to control gestational diabetes. In more advanced cases, medication may be required. The patient should be shown how to monitor their blood glucose, with their unborn baby closely monitored.
Where treatment is inadequate and allow complications to progress or causes further problems, a claim for medical malpractice compensation may be made.
Our Gestational Diabetes Compensation Claims Experience
At Asons, we understand the pain faced by those who see their babies suffer, or lose them altogether, from gestational diabetes. For this reason, we work to provide the greatest levels of support in birthing and obstetrics cases – even outside the bounds of legal advice.
Errors arising from medical negligence cases may hold dire repercussions for patients. We understand precisely what negligence is, and the detrimental effect it has on victims. The consequences may not just be physical – potential financial difficulties where time is taken off work to care for a disabled baby must also be considered. The ensuing stress may also elicit negative psychological consequences, particularly if the baby was lost altogether due to negligence in handling diabetes in pregnancy.
We know that victims are often hesitant to come forward with their medical claims, particularly those pertaining to birthing and obstetrics. As medical negligence solicitors, it’s our job to do everything within our means to make the process as straightforward as possible.
Children born from mothers with gestational diabetes whose conditions were not properly managed may need lifetime support, care and medical attention. Gestational diabetes compensation may be the only way to secure their future.