Doctors may consider several different factors when determining who is at risk for shoulder dystocia. These factors generally revolve around a newborn’s ability to pass quickly and safely through the mother’s birth canal without getting stuck. Two major risk factors include when the mother has a narrow pelvis, or when the baby is larger than average—a condition known as fetal macrosomia.
Other factors can also lead to a high risk of shoulder dystocia. This includes when the mother has had a previous case of shoulder dystocia or fetal macrosomia, or required assisted vaginal delivery in an earlier pregnancy.
For a free legal consultation, call 1-800-222-9529
Risk Factors for Shoulder Dystocia
Since shoulder dystocia involves a baby being unable to pass through the mother’s birth canal, there are two main reasons this may occur. The first one involves when the mother’s pelvis or birth canal is narrower than average, which can make it difficult for a newborn to pass through.
Babies who grow larger than 8 or 9 pounds before delivery are also more likely to experience shoulder dystocia. In fact, the risk for this complication rises dramatically as the weight of the baby increases. This fetal macrosomia may occur due to:
- Maternal diabetes, including gestational diabetes.
- Poor control of blood sugar levels in a mother with diabetes.
- Maternal obesity.
- Extreme weight gain during pregnancy.
In many cases, it is possible to determine that a baby is at risk for shoulder dystocia by closely monitoring their growth in the womb. Doctors should also examine the mother’s pelvis to ensure that vaginal delivery is a safe option. If the mother has any of the symptoms above or a history of previous shoulder dystocia or fetal macrosomia, a doctor may decide to schedule a C-section.
Birth Injury Lawyer Near Me 1-800-222-9529
Shoulder Dystocia Can Cause Lasting Injuries
Knowing who is at risk for shoulder dystocia is important because this delivery complication constitutes a serious medical emergency. When possible, mothers at high risk should consider a planned C-section delivery to avoid any permanent or even deadly injuries to herself or her baby.
While many babies who experience shoulder dystocia can be born without injury, others may suffer brain injuries, lifelong impairments, and other related medical concerns. When a baby becomes stuck in the birth canal, it can compress the umbilical cord and prevent the baby’s brain from receiving the oxygen it needs. Hypoxemia will lead to brain injury in around five minutes if the doctor cannot deliver the baby safely.
Hypoxemia can cause many concerns for the child for the rest of their lives. Examples of serious impairments that hypoxemia can lead to as a result of shoulder dystocia include:
- Cerebral palsy.
- Hearing loss.
- Poor vision.
According to American Family Physician, between 4 and 15 percent of babies with shoulder dystocia suffer a brachial plexus injury even if a doctor can deliver the infant quickly enough to prevent brain injury. Of these, about 90 percent recover fully in the first year of life.
If shoulder dystocia occurs during delivery, there are a few non-invasive techniques that are often effective in resolving the complication. If not, the doctor may need to push the baby back into the womb and perform a C-section delivery instead.
Medical Malpractice and Shoulder Dystocia Injuries
If your child suffered shoulder dystocia and related complications, you may want to have a medical malpractice attorney in your state evaluate the specific details of the injuries. A lawyer can help you build a case for compensation if there is proof to show that your doctor failed to recognize your risk factors for shoulder dystocia and take the proper precautions. If you proceeded with a vaginal birth, a doctor may be liable for failing to act when shoulder dystocia occurred, or for taking an incorrect action that caused further injury.
You may be able to recover compensation that will allow you to pay for your child’s current or future medical needs related to the injury. This can include the cost of ongoing care and support, any wages you missed while away from work, and other related expenses.
Complete a Free Case Evaluation form now
Talk to a Member of Our Team for Help With Your Shoulder Dystocia Case Today
At the Birth Injury Lawyers Group, we can discuss your child’s birth injuries with you at no cost to your family. If we believe you have a case, your attorney will help you assign liability, build a case, work with medical experts, navigate the claims process, and possibly negotiate a settlement or pursue a court award on your family’s behalf.
Call (800) 222-9529 today to learn how.