During pregnancy, hormonal changes can make your cells less responsive to insulin. For most pregnant women this isn’t a concern. When the body needs more insulin, the pancreas secretes more of it. However, if your pancreas can’t keep up with the increased insulin demand during pregnancy, your blood glucose levels rise, resulting in gestational diabetes. Between 2 and 10 percent of expectant mothers develop this condition, making it one of the most common health problems of pregnancy.
Currently, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Diabetes Association recommend screening pregnant women for gestational diabetes, and state that women who do develop pregnancy-related diabetes should be re-tested 6 to 12 weeks after delivering their babies. However, just over two-thirds of pregnant women undergo screening tests for gestational diabetes, according to a new study of one million patient records. Among the 5% of women who tested positive for gestational diabetes, just 1 in 5 were screened again within 6 months of giving birth, explains Jon M. Nakamoto of Quest Diagnostics Nichols Institute in San Juan Capistrano, California. The findings are particularly concerning, Nakamoto says, given that a recent large study, the Hyperglycemia and Adverse Pregnancy Outcome (HAPO) trial, found that even subtle defects in maternal glucose metabolism during pregnancy led to health problems for mother and baby.
Gestational diabetes is a dangerous condition, which, if left untreated, can lead to serious birth injuries, large babies who present difficult deliveries and blood sugar issues for mother. If a mother’s blood sugar levels aren’t controlled, her baby may be at a higher risk for jaundice and breathing problems. Testing a baby’s blood sugar can prevent serious injuries such as seizures, coma, and brain damage that might result if the situation went unnoticed. Some studies have even found a link between severe gestational diabetes and an increased risk of stillbirth in the last two months of pregnancy.
All pregnant women should be screened for gestational diabetes around 28 weeks of pregnancy and if the initial glucose tolerance test indicates you might be diabetic, then a more intensive three hour glucose test should be administered. It is critical for your doctor to accurately read the results of your tests so you can be prescribed the correct diet and medication, if necessary. If your doctor failed to diagnose your gestational diabetes and your baby suffered a birth injury as a result, you may have the right to collect damages in a medical malpractice lawsuit. E-mail or call Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers at 1-888-419-BABY for a free consultation. We represent clients in Michigan, Ohio, Washington DC and throughout the United States.