Check out 'The Soloff & Zervanos Show' Podcast on WWDB Talk 860 - Click Here!

What Is Shoulder Dystocia And How Can Doctors Avoid It?

Posted in Birth Injury on Monday, October 29, 2018.

No mother expects her child to be born with a serious medical condition, but the birthing process can be rough on babies at times — and a birth injury could be unavoidable. In other situations, however, a birth injury is entirely avoidable.

When doctors detect the possibility of a birth injury during labor, they need to take swift action to prevent the injury. The problem is, this doesn’t always happen. Negligent and reckless doctors have caused numerous babies to be born with irreversible medical problems. One such birth injury — which may or may not be reversible depending on the severity — is called shoulder dystocia.

Shoulder dystocia: A potentially lifelong medical condition

If your baby was born with a limp arm and hand, he or she could be suffering from the birth injury known as “shoulder dystocia.” Doctors have been keeping medical records on instances of shoulder dystocia since the 1730s. The condition happens in approximately one out of every 150 childbirths, so it isn’t entirely uncommon as far as birth injuries are concerned. In most cases, the limpness and/or paralysis in the arm and hand of the baby will heal by itself, but not always. Some babies are left with lifelong disabilities as a result of this birth injury.

The paralysis of the arm and hand happen when nerves are torn during the delivery process. A baby can essentially become trapped behind the pelvic bone of the mother, at which time swift action must be taken to prevent injury to the baby during pushing. The baby needs to be delivered through the birth canal quickly enough to ensure he or she gets enough oxygen while also preventing this injury.

Risk factors for shoulder dystocia

Here are some of the risk factors for shoulder dystocia:

  • A previous birth in which shoulder dystocia was a problem.
  • An overweight mother with a body mass index of 30 and above.
  • A mother who has had gestational diabetes (usually due to the baby being larger).
  • Having an especially large baby.
  • Having induced labor.
  • Having a prolonged labor that requires forceps or vacuum assistance.

When doctors fail to take action in the face of these and other shoulder dystocia risk factors — and a baby is born with this serious medical condition — the doctor might be liable for medical malpractice. If your baby was born with shoulder dystocia, make sure that you investigate your case closely to determine your legal rights and options.