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Protecting Accident Victims Throughout Western Pennsylvania.

What is shoulder dystocia, and whom does it affect?

On Behalf of | Aug 7, 2020 | Malpractice

Shoulder dystocia is one of the rarer birth injuries, but expectant mothers in Pennsylvania should know about it all the same. It arises in 0.2% to 0.3% of pregnancies. What happens is that during labor and birth, the baby has one or both shoulders stuck in the mother’s pelvis.

Shoulder dystocia may lead to serious injuries

In most cases, the baby is born safely without injuries to either the baby or the mother. Other times, the injuries can be severe. Arm and collarbone fractures are not uncommon, and the baby may even experience weakness or paralysis in one or both arms due to nerve damage in the brachial plexus. In extreme cases, the baby may become oxygen-deprived and suffer brain damage or death.

The mother may be hurt in significant ways, too. She may suffer postpartum hemorrhaging, which means heavy bleeding after birth, or tear the perineum. In rare cases, the uterus may rupture during labor.

Risk factors for shoulder dystocia

Shoulder dystocia can arise in any pregnancy, but certain mothers run a higher risk than others. The following raise that risk:

• Macrosomia, or an unusually large baby
• Giving birth to twins or triplets
• A mother who has diabetes or developed it during pregnancy
• A mother who is obese or gained too much weight during pregnancy

When birth injuries stem from malpractice

Doctors cannot necessarily predict shoulder dystocia, so if your baby suffered from it, you may or may not have a valid medical malpractice case. It depends on several factors. For example, doctors should be able to take the above-mentioned risk factors into account and recommend a C-section to prevent shoulder dystocia. If they failed to do so out of negligence, then there might be a case. You may want to speak to a lawyer for more details.