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Shoulder dystocia, a sometimes serious birth injury

On Behalf of | Jun 24, 2020 | Firm News

In Wesley Chapel, Florida, there are many cases of both newborns and mothers being injured during delivery. One birth injury that you may want to know about is shoulder dystocia, a condition caused when a baby gets his or her shoulder, or both shoulders, stuck in the mother’s pelvis. It occurs in some 0.2% or 0.3% of pregnancies, and though injuries are rare, they can still be serious.

What can shoulder dystocia cause?

Oftentimes, shoulder dystocia can result in fractures to the arm and collarbone. It’s frequently linked with injuries to the brachial plexus, too. This is a network of nerves that control movement and sensation in the shoulder, upper arm, wrist and hand. Such nerve damage can lead to paralysis or weakness in the arm. In severe cases, the baby may asphyxiate, suffering brain damage and perhaps death.

The mother may bleed profusely after birth in a condition known as postpartum hemorrhaging. She may tear her perineum, the area between the vagina and rectum, and this will necessitate surgery. Uterine rupture is also possible, though rare.

Can shoulder dystocia be prevented?

Shoulder dystocia cannot be prevented except through a C-section. Doctors should know when to recommend this to mothers. For example, if the baby weighs over 5,000 grams, or 11 pounds, this is an obvious case of macrosomia and raises the risk for shoulder dystocia.

Other times when shoulder dystocia can perhaps be foreseen are when the mother has diabetes, is overweight or has gained excessive weight during pregnancy. The risk also goes up if mothers take an epidural and if doctors use birth-assisting tools like vacuums and forceps. Multiple births make the condition more likely, too.

Legal assistance in serious injury cases

Perhaps your newborn suffered a serious injury relating to shoulder dystocia or another condition arising from a difficult delivery. If there’s evidence that the doctors could have prevented the injury but did not because of negligence, you may have good grounds for a medical malpractice case. With a lawyer handling your case, you may get the representation you need to recover a fair amount in compensatory damages.