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Shoulder dystocia birth complications and risk factors

On Behalf of | Nov 29, 2018 | Birth Injuries

Although the majority of births go well for mothers and infants in Pennsylvania, birth injury remains a possibility at any delivery. One form of birth injury called shoulder dystocia could cause a variety of problems for a mother or infant. Shoulder dystocia occurs during a vaginal birth when an infant’s shoulders become stuck in the birth canal. Shoulder dystocia can injure either the infant or mother, and some women have an enhanced risk for the issue.

Complications that result from the difficult birth could include tearing of the vagina, cervix, uterus or rectum. Prolonged and heavy bleeding after birth might also trouble a woman. Infants face other complications, such as nerve damage to the shoulder, arm or hand. Shaking and paralysis could result from this nerve injury, but symptoms usually resolve after six months to a year. Severe shoulder dystocia could block oxygen from reaching the infant’s brain and cause brain damage or death on rare occasions.

Although a pregnant woman without any risk factors for shoulder dystocia could still have it happen during delivery, the problem is more likely for obese mothers or those with diabetes. Large babies have a greater chance of getting their shoulders stuck as do babies born after their due dates. Other risk factors associated with shoulder dystocia include induced labor and the use of an epidural.

Birth injuries like shoulder dystocia at times cause a mother or baby significant harm. If mistakes by medical personnel led to injuries, a family might want to speak to an attorney about pursuing damages. An attorney could gather testimony from independent experts about the actions of physicians or nurses involved in the delivery.