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Shoulder dystocia: its risk factors and its effects

On Behalf of | Jun 22, 2020 | Medical Malpractice |

If your child was seriously injured at birth, chances are that the doctors in charge were at fault. Medical negligence cases are not uncommon in White Plains, New York, and some birth injuries are more frequently reported than others.

One of the more rare, but still dangerous, conditions that can affect newborns as well as their mothers is shoulder dystocia, where one or both of the baby’s shoulders get stuck in the mother’s pelvis. It occurs in 0.2% to 0.3% of pregnancies.

Effects of shoulder dystocia

In most cases, the baby is born without injury. However, it’s possible for the baby to fracture a collarbone or arm in a shoulder dystocia case. The baby may incur nerve damage, too: specifically, damage to the brachial plexus, which controls movement and sensation in the shoulder and upper arm. This leads to weakness or paralysis in the arm. Asphyxia, or oxygen deprivation, can arise in serious cases, causing brain damage or death.

As for the mother, she may experience heavy bleeding after giving birth, known as postpartum hemorrhaging. Her perineum may be torn, in which case she may need surgery afterwards. In very rare cases, the uterus may rupture.

Hard to predict and prevent

There are several factors that can make shoulder dystocia more likely, one of them being macrosomia. This refers to a baby whose birth weight is over 4,000 grams or 8 pounds and 13 ounces. If the mother is overweight, gained an excessive amount of weight during pregnancy, or is carrying twins or triplets, these are other factors to take into consideration.

Other times, the use of forceps, vacuums and other birth-assisting tools will raise the risk for shoulder dystocia. Doctors should be able to tell when a C-section would be the preferred way of giving birth.

A lawyer for complex issues

Perhaps your baby suffered nerve damage or brain damage during delivery and you think you have a medical malpractice case on your hands. Pursuing one can be a complicated process, so you may want a lawyer to give your case personal attention, especially during the phase of negotiating a reasonable settlement.