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Shoulder Dystocia: a Preventable and Catastrophic Birth Injury

Shoulder dystocia is an uncommon, yet often catastrophic complication that can occur during childbirth. The birth injury happens when a baby's shoulders are stuck during delivery, after the head has emerged and it is considered an obstetric emergency.

Predicting shoulder dystocia can be difficult, however, risk factors are known and medical professionals should be aware of the warning signs. Shoulder dystocia occurs for a variety of reasons - sometimes a baby's shoulder dimensions are too large and sometimes the mother's pelvis is too narrow to permit the normal shoulder rotation that babies go through during birth. But most often, the shifting dynamics of the delivery process cause the baby's shoulder to be obstructed by the mother's pubic bone, impeding delivery.

Whatever the circumstances, shoulder dystocia can seriously harm the baby if not resolved quickly and competently. A delay of more than six minutes increases the risk of neonatal depression, acidosis, asphyxia, brachial plexus palsy, Erb's palsy or even death.

Quick Diagnosis and Action Dispel the Risks

Although may be difficult to predict shoulder dystocia, it can be successfully overcome, given calm and experienced medical care. It requires the delivering doctor to quickly recognize the dangerous condition and use specific physical techniques to remedy the situation, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. Some early warning signs of shoulder dystocia include mothers with gestational diabetes, excessive weight gain, obesity, a smaller-than-average pelvis, post-term pregnancy or who have given birth to a large infant in the past.

If shoulder dystocia does occur during childbirth, mothers are also encouraged to watch for certain birth injury symptoms in themselves and their infants, including:

  • Baby needs help breathing
  • Fractured collar bone or humerus
  • Brachial Plexus Palsy
  • Postpartum hemorrhage
  • Uterine rupture

If your child has suffered a birth injury, like shoulder dystocia, due to medical negligence, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney to discuss your case, determine your options and help you hold the responsible party accountable for your child's injuries.

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Anderson Law Offices, LLC 17138 Lorain Avenue, Suite 211 | Cleveland, OH 44111
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