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Washington, D.C. Birth Injury Lawyer

Washington, D.C. Neonatal Hypoglycemia Birth Injury Lawyers


Neonatal hypoglycemia occurs when a newborn experiences excessively low blood sugar levels at birth or within a few days. When blood sugar levels fall below normal, the brain functions abnormally. Hypoglycemia is often undiagnosed as symptoms can be mild, and many cases resolve after fluids or food containing glucose are administered. However, hypoglycemia must be diagnosed early to ensure more serious consequences are prevented.

Neonatal hypoglycemia is not difficult to identify and treat, and failure to do so can result in devastating consequences. When doctors miss the warning signs of neonatal hypoglycemia, they can be held accountable. If your child has suffered injuries due to undiagnosed or untreated neonatal hypoglycemia, our Washington, D.C. birth injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Dr. Michael M. Wilson, M.D., J.D. & Associates can help you recover compensation for your child’s care, potential lost earnings, and your pain and suffering. Our experienced legal team has recovered hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation for clients injured through medical malpractice.

What Conditions Are Caused by Neonatal Hypoglycemia?

Doctors can conduct a simple blood test of the baby’s glucose levels if they suspect a newborn is suffering from hypoglycemia. If not treated promptly, however, hypoglycemia can cause permanent and potentially fatal complications, such as:

  • Brain damage
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Developmental delays
  • Epilepsy
  • Heart failure
  • Seizure disorders

What Causes Hypoglycemia in Newborns?

Hypoglycemia in newborns requires prompt identification and treatment before the condition becomes uncontrollable. Some common causes of hypoglycemia in newborns include:

  • Insufficient glycogen storage: Stored glycogen in the liver provides a steady supply of glucose, and babies born with insufficient glycogen stores are more susceptible to hypoglycemia brain damage.
  • Prematurity: Premature babies are more at risk for a hypoglycemia brain injury due to lower glycogen stores, undeveloped mechanisms to regulate blood sugar levels, limited fat reserves, and diminished insulin reaction to glucose.
  • Low birth weight: Newborns with low birth weight, typically premature babies, have fewer glycogen reserves and are more likely to develop hypoglycemia.
  • Inadequate feeding: Inadequate feeding is one of the most common causes of neonatal hypoglycemia, especially during the first few days of life. This is why doctors have to stay vigilant. If newborns do not receive enough breast milk or formula, their blood sugar levels can drop.
  • Delayed feeding: Delayed initiation of breastfeeding or formula can create a gap in the infant’s glucose supply, particularly in newborns delivered through C-section.
  • Maternal diabetes: Babies born to diabetic mothers are accustomed to higher glucose levels, and their insulin production may exceed their glucose needs, putting them at greater risk for hypoglycemia.
  • Excessive insulin production: Excessive or continuous insulin production lowers blood sugar levels, resulting in hypoglycemia.
  • Inborn errors of metabolism: These are uncommon genetic conditions that impact the body’s capacity to metabolize certain substances properly. These conditions are typically caused by gene mutations affecting enzymes or proteins within metabolic pathways. Consequently, individuals with inborn errors of metabolism may struggle with breaking down specific substances, which can lead to the buildup of harmful byproducts or a shortage of vital molecules.
  • Metabolic disorders: Rare genetic conditions that disrupt the body’s ability to process certain substances, accumulating toxic byproducts or molecule deficiency.
  • Stress or illness: Stressors such as oxygen deprivation or infection during birth, or respiratory distress trigger the release of stress hormones that can interfere with glucose regulation, leading to hypoglycemic brain injuries.
  • Medications: Medications administered to the mother during labor and delivery or a C-section, such as anesthesia or magnesium sulfate, can affect a newborn’s blood sugar levels.
  • Post C-section: Hypoglycemia can also occur after a C-section birth, particularly if there are delays in initiating breastfeeding or receiving formula, which is essential to help regulate the infant’s blood sugar levels.

Mother’s Hypoglycemia

The signs of hypoglycemia in pregnancy are alike and encompass trembling, perspiration, sudden heat sensations, anxiety episodes, profound hunger, lightheadedness, head pain, disorientation, vision issues, and abrupt moodiness. Typically, hypoglycemia during pregnancy is identified during labor, yet symptoms may manifest – and necessitate diagnosis – earlier than that.Top of Form

What Are the Types of Hypoglycemia?

The three types of hypoglycemia that impact infants are:

  • Transitional hypoglycemia: This condition affects every healthy newborn during their initial days after birth.
  • Perinatal stress-induced hypoglycemia: This occurs in certain high-risk newborns, approximately 1 in 1,200.
  • Genetic congenital hyperinsulinism (CHI): This genetic disorder, also referred to as hyperinsulinemic hypoglycemia (HH), affects a smaller proportion of newborns, approximately 1 in 10,000 to 40,000. The cause of CHI remains unknown in about half of the cases.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Neonatal Hypoglycemia?

Low blood sugar levels in newborns increase the risk of the infant developing learning disabilities, seizures, developmental delays, or excessive activity conditions, such as autism. Initially, low sugar levels may present only subtle symptoms, such as light sweating, tiredness, or feeding problems, making it difficult for doctors to diagnose if they are not acutely aware of the risks.

Signs of neonatal hypoglycemia include:

  • Apnea or difficulty breathing
  • Cyanosis, blue-tinted skin
  • Fatigue
  • Grunting
  • Hypotonia
  • Inability to regulate body temperature
  • Irritability
  • Listlessness
  • Nausea
  • Pale skin
  • Poor feeding
  • Rapid breathing
  • Seizures
  • Shaking
  • Sweating
  • Tremors
  • Vomiting

How Is Neonatal Hypoglycemia Diagnosed and Treated?

There are several ways in which medical professionals can confirm suspected neonatal hypoglycemia, such as:

  • Blood test: A simple test of blood glucose levels can easily diagnose neonatal hypoglycemia. The blood is typically drawn from the infant’s heel, arm, or an umbilical catheter that samples blood from the umbilical cord.
  • Urinalysis: A urine test can also detect whether a newborn has neonatal hypoglycemia.

There are different treatments for hypoglycemia. The most common treatment is to administer glucose intravenously or through food. More severe cases may require partial removal of the pancreas. Following glucose administration, the baby’s blood glucose levels must be closely monitored for reoccurrence of hypoglycemia. Treatment typically takes up to a week. However, some infants respond positively within a few hours.

In most cases, neonatal hypoglycemia can be avoided if the risk factors, signs, and symptoms are identified early and properly addressed.

When Is Neonatal Hypoglycemia Considered Medical Malpractice?

Hypoglycemia is the most common metabolic disturbance during the neonatal period, and screening at-risk infants and managing blood glucose levels in the first hours or days after birth is common when medical staff care for a newborn. Medical malpractice occurs when physicians fail to perform these tasks and ignore signs and symptoms. Some examples of medical malpractice may include:

  • Failure to identify or treat a mother’s condition.
  • Failure to diagnose or treat a baby’s condition.
  • Delayed diagnosis or treatment.

How Do You Know If Your Child Suffered a Hypoglycemia Birth Injury?

Initially, discerning whether your child has suffered a birth injury can be challenging. The indications of hypoglycemia during infancy are subtle and nonspecific, encompassing traits like irritability, reduced muscle tone, jitteriness, low body temperature, sluggishness, and feeding difficulties.

Another red flag is a delay in achieving developmental milestones. However, children may miss these milestones for various reasons, many of which are harmless and resolve naturally. If the child’s medical records hint at a potential brain injury and there are significant delays in milestone attainment, an MRI scan may be ordered to investigate for signs of white matter loss in the brain.

Brain damage resulting from hypoglycemia typically manifests as “diffuse lesions” on an MRI scan. Periventricular leukomalacia is a type of brain injury that can result from hypoglycemia. However, it is more commonly associated with ischemic brain injuries in premature infants, underscoring the importance of medical experts in determining the injury’s cause. Some experts also suggest that hypoglycemia-related brain injuries tend to manifest as occipital injuries.

Our Washington, D.C. Birth Injury Lawyers at the Law Offices of Dr. Michael M. Wilson, M.D., J.D. & Associates Advocate for Victims of Medical Malpractice

Neonatal hypoglycemia can lead to life-long medical conditions and developmental disabilities if undiagnosed or untreated. If your child has suffered preventable complications because your physician failed to recognize the many signs and symptoms, our Washington, D.C. birth injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Dr. Michael M. Wilson, M.D., J.D. & Associates can help you recover the compensation you and your child deserve. Call 202-223-4488 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Washington, D.C., we serve clients in the surrounding areas, including Northern Virginia and Maryland.

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