Hypoglycaemia in newborn babies and serious implications for baby's health


Hypoglycaemia in newborn babies.

If medical staff do not recognise and treat hypoglycaemia properly, it can have serious implications for a baby's health, including brain damage.

Therefore it is essential to know what you can do and how you can claim compensation from the hospital who failed your child.

Hypoglycaemia in babies

Hypoglycaemia is when your blood sugar (glucose) is very low. As glucose is the body's main source of energy, hypoglycaemia has life-changing consequences.

Some babies are more at risk than others of hypoglycaemia, for instance babies born to mothers who have diabetes.

Babies are also susceptible if they:
  • Were born prematurely or are very small
  • Had breathing difficulties at birth
  • Suffered excessive coldness or hypothermia or have had an infection
Hypoglycaemia in newborns can usually, with appropriate medical care, be quickly reversed.

Signs of hypoglycaemia in babies

It is important that babies who are considered to be at risk of hypoglycaemia are carefully monitored, in case their blood sugar drops.

Often you can't tell a baby has low blood sugar levels just by looking at them. However, if their blood sugar is too low you may notice subtle signs, such as the baby becoming jittery, irritable, very sleepy or floppy.

If a baby's blood sugar is very low he could start fitting or go into convulsions. These are signs that something very serious is happening and medical staff need to act quickly. A blood test is the only way to find out for sure what the baby's blood sugar levels are.

Risks to a baby with hypoglycaemia

If a baby's blood sugar level is low and this is not recognised and treated immediately by medical staff it could put baby's health at serious risk. If it stays low for a long period of time it could even cause brain damage.

If your newborn baby suffers harm because medical staff did not act properly to reverse your child's hypoglycaemia, then you can make a claim for compensation. You can do this on behalf of your baby against the hospital concerned.

Understanding medical negligence

Simpson Millar, recently acted in a case where because medical staff were negligent in recognising and treating a baby's hypoglycaemia, the baby suffered brain damage.

The baby's mother had initially spoken to another lawyer who had told her the case was unwinnable and should be abandoned!

A liability report compiled by an obstetric expert, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist confirmed that there had been a negligent delay when the medical staff delivered the baby. However, a consultant pediatric neurologist had told the mother that baby's brain injury could not be linked to that delay.

To make a claim for medical negligence, it is essential you prove both of the following:
  • The medical staff failed in their duty and their care was negligent
  • You suffered physically or psychologically as a direct result of this negligent care
So, the mother was advised by the pediatric neurologist that whilst it could probably be proved that there had been a negligent delay in delivering the baby, he could not prove this had directly caused the brain injury. Therefore, the first lawyer felt she could not make a claim for compensation against the hospital.

Simpson Millar LLP win case for baby

When the case came to us, we were immediately concerned that nobody, not even the medical experts had been able to explain how the baby's brain injury had occurred.

After we had reviewed the medical notes made during the first few days after the baby's birth, it became clear the baby had very low blood glucose levels during the first 6 days of life.

We also obtained a report from a Consultant Pediatrician who concluded that the medical staff had been negligent, because they had not taken the necessary action to reverse baby's hypoglycaemia.

A newly instructed consultant Pediatric neurologist gave the opinion that baby's brain injury was caused by his having been allowed to remain grossly hypoglycemic for a significant period of time. Therefore, it could be proved that his injury was the direct result of the medical staff's negligence.

Unsurprisingly, the hospital initially denied the claim and court proceedings were issued.

However with our knowledge and diligence, Simpson Millar LLP were successfully able to win a multi-million pound compensation award for the baby.

If you have a baby with hypoglycaemia

You may be entitled to compensation, if you believe your child has suffered harm because medical staff were negligent. This might be because they did not recognise and reverse hypoglycemia in the first few days of your baby's life.

You should always ensure that your case is thoroughly investigated, as your baby may be entitled to substantial compensation. This cannot change what has happened, but can go some way towards making the changes you need for your child's future.

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