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.