Overview of Newborn Hypoglycemia

Newborn hypoglycemia is a condition in which a newborn has low glucose levels. This can be dangerous to the newborn’s health, as the brain depends on glucose. If a doctor fails to address this condition and it leads to injury, an Ohio medical malpractice attorney in Cleveland can help parents take legal action with a medical malpractice claim.

What are the causes of newborn hypoglycemia? 

There can be a variety of causes for low glucose levels. One is when insulin (which is a hormone) increases and absorbs glucose from the blood.

Another potential cause is when the newborn is having difficulties feeding. Glucose is produced in the liver, but babies also get it through formula or breast milk. It could also be the newborn is using more glucose than is available or just not producing enough.

Birth asphyxia may also be associated with hypoglycemia. Asphyxia occurs if the newborn’s oxygen supply has been deprived. It can be the result of low maternal blood pressure, compression of the umbilical cord, placental abruption (placenta prematurely separates from the uterine wall) and other conditions that lead to a lack of oxygen.

What are the risk factors for neonatal hypoglycemia? 

Risk factors for low glucose levels in newborns include: 

  • maternal diabetes;
  • genetic disorders like inborn errors of metabolism where the body is unable to turn food into energy;
  • smaller than normal size for gestational age;
  • premature birth;
  • sepsis (blood infection);
  • intrauterine growth restriction (poor growth in womb);
  • hypothyroidism (low thyroid levels); and
  • required oxygen immediately after birth. 

When these risk factors are present, it should prompt special attention to the low glucose levels. If there is evidence they are low, they should be checked frequently.

Testing for newborn hypoglycemia can include heel stick (heel is pricked and drops of blood are collected) and urine tests. Or it may be done through an umbilical catheter where a tube is inserted into the umbilical cord. The newborn might also be tested for metabolic disorders (metabolism process is disrupted due to abnormal chemical reactions).

Doctors who fail to properly test or address newborn hypoglycemia may be held liable in Ohio by a medical malpractice attorney in Cleveland, as standard of care in the case may call for testing or certain interventions.

What are the symptoms of newborn hypoglycemia? 

Symptoms of newborn hypoglycemia aren’t always present. However, it is routine for a newborn’s blood sugar levels to be checked. So when there aren’t signs of low glucose levels, tests would indicate if there is a problem.

Some symptoms that may occur when a newborn has low blood sugar levels include: 

  • muscles are floppy/loose;
  • skin color is pale or bluish;
  • feeding difficulties;
  • listless/lethargic;
  • low body temperature;
  • tremors/shaking;
  • irritability;
  • breathing difficulties (rapid, pauses); and
  • seizures. 

Recognizing symptoms or receiving test results that indicate blood sugar levels are low may require treatment. Failing to provide treatment, delaying it or stopping it too soon could cause complications. This may include impaired mental function, due to brain damage. It could also cause heart failure or seizures. In these cases, parents may consult an Ohio medical malpractice attorney in Cleveland about potentially filing a suit.

Should an Ohio medical malpractice attorney in Cleveland be consulted if parents suspect injuries were preventable? 

There are several considerations that need to be made when determining if medical negligence might have played a role in injuries. Keep in mind that low glucose levels usually can’t be prevented.

But it might become an issue if the risk factors aren’t noticed, tests aren’t properly done or treatment isn’t performed. Parents can consult with an Ohio medical malpractice attorney in Cleveland if there are concerns about whether or not complications after delivery might have been the result of negligence. An attorney can call on a medical expert for help with the case.

Mellino Robenalt LLC can assist parents with determining the validity of a case in which negligence is suspected to have caused or contributed to serious injury. If so, an Ohio medical malpractice attorney in Cleveland can explain the legal options that might be available and the types of damages that could be sought if newborn hypoglycemia led to further complications due to doctor negligence.