The role of blood sugar in fetal or newborn brain damage

While brain injuries have received increased attention in recent years, there are still many misconceptions about damage to this important organ. One such misconception is that brain injuries are only caused by external pressures. In reality, the source of brain damage can come from within the body, such as an error during delivery that doesn't cause direct brain trauma but does cause insufficient oxygen which, in turn, causes brain damage. In the case of babies in the womb, brain damage may also be caused by factors within the mother's body.

One such factor, which may seem surprising to some Houston mothers-to-be, is low blood sugar levels. Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar levels, in newborns can be highly dangerous, since the developing brain depends on blood glucose for fuel. Without enough glucose, the brain may no longer be able to function properly. Low blood sugar levels in pregnant mothers can thus be a cause for concern during pregnancy; an expecting mother's obstetrician must follow industry standards for monitoring such a pregnancy.

Causes of hypoglycemia in newborns are numerous and varied, and risk factors include a mother with gestational diabetes, premature birth, babies who are too large or too small for their gestational age and a birth that is particularly stressful. Additional risk factors include infections, poor maternal nutrition during a pregnancy, birth asphyxia and birth defects.

As with many pregnancy-related health issues, low blood sugar in a developing or newborn baby can have a complicated mix of causes. A doctor who fails to properly monitor a mother's diabetes, for instance, can inadvertently create conditions ripe for brain damage to a baby. Likewise, a physician who does not properly diagnose hypoglycemia in newborns can allow the condition to worsen, even when such worsening could have been prevented.

Parents of babies or young children with brain damage are likely to have many questions about their child's condition. Usually, one of the primary questions is what, exactly, led to their child's brain injury and who may be responsible. Getting the right information about legal options can help a family answer these and other significant questions about their child's future.

Categories: Brain Injuries