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The risks associated with fetal macrosomia

On Behalf of | Aug 17, 2020 | Birth Injuries

There are a number of complications that can arise both during pregnancy and the delivery of a baby. Most people in Pittsburgh would not likely list a baby being too large to be one of them. Most might see a baby growing to a large size while in utero as a sign of good health, yet babies with excessive birth weights can present the potential for complications in both newborns and expectant mothers.

The clinical term describing a baby with excessive birth weight is “fetal macrosomia.” According to the Mayo Clinic, a baby is considered macrosomic if it grows to a weight of greater than 4,000 grams (roughly 8 pounds 13 ounces) prior to being delivered. Nearly 9% of babies born annually throughout the world reach this weight. A large baby can be at an increased risk of suffering an injury during delivery (that risk increases exponentially if a baby grows to 4,500 grams (9 pounds 15 ounces) while in utero).

Per information shared in the journal Research and Reports in Neonatology, cases of fetal macrosomia can present a greater risk of birth injuries such as:

  • Shoulder dystocia
  • Brachial plexus injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Meconium aspiration
  • Perinatal asphyxia
  • Chorioamnionitis (intra-amniotic infections)

Furthermore, macrosomic babies are at a greater risk of post-delivery complications like insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome. Mothers who deliver large babies vaginally may also more likely to experience vaginal and genital tract lacerations and post-delivery bleeding.

Doctors cannot do anything to keep a baby from growing within their mother’s womb. However, they can recognize the signs and symptoms of fetal macrosomia and adjust treatment and delivery plans accordingly in order to minimize the risk of complications occurring during delivery.