Neonatal hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) is always a risk in new born babies and cannot be entirely prevented. As it can cause devastating and irreversible brain damage, the doctor, midwife or neonatal nurse should monitor the newborn frequently for signs of low blood sugar.
Some babies are at greater risk and so doctors should be alert to:
A doctor, midwife or neonatal nurse should also know that the absence of symptoms does not mean that a baby does not have hypoglycaemia.
Reaching a decision to claim for clinical negligence is never easy
Health professionals have a ‘duty of care’ to you and your baby, which should not fall below an expected standard of appropriate care and treatment. We recognise that any claim arising from complications during or after childbirth requires the highest degree of sensitivity, understanding and expert guidance to help you whilst we conduct your case.
Our dedicated team of specialist solicitors has many years of experience in successfully resolving clinical negligence cases. We can help you find out why the system failed to provide the appropriate care at the right time and, crucially, obtain compensation to ensure that the financial needs of your child’s future care and treatment will be properly met.
Litigation Authority in a ten year period up to 2012. ( NHS UK, 2012)
Neonatal hypoglycaemia is caused by low blood sugar or glucose levels, which can arise in the immediate hours and days following a baby’s birth.
What’s the cause?
During pregnancy, a baby receives a continuous supply of glucose from the placenta attached to the lining of the mother’s womb.
While normal healthy adults are very efficient at keeping glucose levels constant, in the immediate period following birth, a baby has to adjust from receiving a continuous supply of glucose to, instead, becoming dependent upon obtaining the necessary level of blood sugar from the mother’s milk or formula milk to top up the glucose produced by the liver.
Most healthy babies adjust to the changed conditions without any problems but others are at risk of developing dangerously low blood sugar levels.
Glucose (blood sugar) levels can drop if:
Other common risk factors
Low blood sugar levels are also more likely because of:
Other frequently associated conditions
Although the symptoms are often quite difficult to recognise and can vary from one baby to another, the more obvious and common symptoms of neonatal hypoglycaemia are:
If no symptoms show
Babies with low blood sugar may not display any symptoms at all but this does not mean that neonatal hypoglycaemia is not present.
A baby who shows no symptoms but has one or more risk factors known to cause a low blood sugar level must also be tested for the condition by the hospital natal staff.
A doctor and hospital natal staff would be expected to recognise high risk pregnancies and the symptoms of low blood sugar levels in a newborn baby.
While levels will naturally fluctuate as the baby adjusts following birth, the general clinical guideline is that testing should be carried out to ensure the baby maintains its blood sugar levels above the recommended level.
Prevention and treatment are relatively simple and easy:
Other possible tests:
Treatment for a low blood sugar level can be as simple as early feeding with glucose water, which will raise the blood sugar in otherwise normal babies. Some babies might need to receive an intravenous glucose solution.
The blood sugar level should be carefully and frequently monitored until levels have stabilised and the treatment can be discontinued.
Treatment may depend on the following considerations:
Failure by a doctor, midwife, natal nurse or another clinician to detect and treat hypoglycaemia can lead to serious, irreversible brain damage.
Further serious harm with life-long implications includes:
As experienced clinical negligence specialists, we know that identifying why complications have arisen may not be straight forward. In some cases, failure to treat hypoglycaemia in a newborn baby was the result of insufficient emphasis placed on breast feeding by midwives attending first time mothers.
From our first conversation and throughout the case, our experienced medical negligence specialists will ensure that the interests of you and your child are put first, whilst we support and guide you through your claim.
Our dedicated team has many years of experience in successfully resolving medical negligence claims. We can help you find out why the system failed to provide the appropriate care at the right time and, crucially, obtain compensation to ensure that your child’s future financial needs are met.