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Medical Management Of Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is when a woman develops diabetes during her pregnancy. In this article we explore gestational diabetes in more detail, explaining how it should be handled from a medical point of view, and what to do if medical mismanagement causes harm to you or your baby.

What is gestational diabetes?

Gestational diabetes is when a woman develops diabetes only for the duration of her pregnancy. Diabetes is when the body does not produce enough insulin, a hormone that controls the amount of glucose in the blood. When we eat, our body releases insulin from the pancreas, causing any glucose we have ingested to be broken down and transported to the cells where it is then transferred into energy. If there is an insufficient amount of insulin, the level of glucose in the blood will rise, leading to symptoms of hypoglycaemia. These include tiredness, blurred vision, recurrent infections, thirst and needing to urinate regularly.

How should gestational diabetes be managed?

Every pregnant woman should be offered a gestational diabetes screening test at around 8-12 weeks. During this appointment, a medical professional should assess your health and family medical history, identifying any factors that could increase the risk of gestational diabetes. This may include if your body mass index is more than 30, if you have previously had a large baby or if you have a family member with diabetes. A test should then be carried out in order to test the level of glucose in the body.

If gestational diabetes is diagnosed, you should be advised upon how best to manage your condition. This may involve altering your diet, performing regular exercise or taking insulin injections. You should also be advised upon how to monitor your own blood glucose levels at home.

You and your unborn baby must then be monitored on a regular basis throughout the pregnancy. Ultrasound scans should be done at around weeks 18 to 20, and then again at weeks, 28, 32, 36 and 38. From week 38 a scan should be carried out on a weekly basis, as should tests to monitor your baby's health. This will ensure there is still enough amniotic fluid within the womb, the baby is not too large and his or her heart-rate is normal. If there is a sign of complication, you might be advised to have the birth induced. During labour this consistent monitoring should continue, as you should have a blood glucose test around every hour.

Gestational diabetes and substandard medical management

As long as gestational diabetes is managed properly, you and your baby will suffer no harm whatsoever. However, if there is a case of medical mismanagement, a number of serious complications could arise. These include:-

  • Placental abruption;
  • Pre-eclampsia;
  • Premature birth;
  • Macrosomnia (where the baby is too big for his or her gestational age);
  • Trauma during birth.

If you believe you or your baby suffered injury because of poorly managed gestational diabetes, you could be the victim of medical negligence. For example, if the condition was not diagnosed or if complications were not identified, you could be entitled to claim compensation. To find out more, you need to speak to a medical negligence solicitor as soon as possible.

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