Neonatal hypoglycemia is marked by a severely low plasma glucose level (low blood sugar) within the first 24 hours of life, and is a common metabolic condition in newborns. Significant long-term consequences of this condition include neurologic damage that leads to mental retardation, recurring seizures, delay in development and personality disorders. There is evidence to suggest that serious hypoglycemia may harm cardiovascular function.
Prior to birth, the baby receives glucose from the mother via the placenta. Following birth, the baby receives glucose from the mother via her milk or from formula. In addition, the baby produces milk in the liver. Neonatal hypoglycemia is more likely to occur in infants having one or more of the following risk factors:
- They are born prematurely, have a severe infection, or required oxygen immediately following delivery.
- The mother suffers from diabetes and thus, the infant is frequently larger than normal.
- During pregnancy, the infant grows at a slower rate in the womb than normal.
- The infant’s size is smaller than what is considered normal for the infant’s gestational age.
Because newborns with low blood sugar may not present any symptoms, nurses in the hospital are required to check the baby’s blood sugar levels if the baby has one of the risk factors. Babies who are at risk for hypoglycemia should be given a blood test to gauge the blood sugar level every few hours following birth. The health care provider should take the test until the baby’s glucose level remains normal for approximately 12 to 24 hours.
Since neonatal hypoglycemia is not difficult to recognize and treat, a physician can be held liable for failing to miss the warning signs of the condition. It is reasonable to expect doctors and nurses to possess the requisite knowledge and skill to identify and treat newborns who present symptoms of the condition. If the doctor did not identify any symptoms during the mother’s pregnancy, the doctor should be even more observant of any signs of the condition when the child is born.
If your child was misdiagnosed, or received incorrect treatment, you should consult the birth injury attorneys at Chailk & Chalik.