Study says inducing labor for large babies may prevent shoulder dystocia

Induced labor may help reduce the chances of shoulder dystocia for pregnant women giving birth to larger-than-average babies.

Earlier in 2015, researchers at Geneva University Hospitals in Switzerland studied labor induction as an option to decrease the risk of shoulder dystocia during delivery. They found that one case of shoulder dystocia was prevented for every 25 labor inductions. Shoulder dystocia is a birth injury that occurs when one or both shoulders of a newborn get stuck behind the mother’s pelvic bone during the delivery process. Oversized babies are especially at risk.

The findings point to a delicate balancing act for pregnant women and their doctors. Inducing at 37 to 38 weeks may reduce the risk of shoulder dystocia by preventing infants from growing larger. However, doctors generally avoid inducing labor before 39 weeks of pregnancy as earlier deliveries can result in breathing problems and other complications in newborns. On the other hand, waiting to deliver babies until they are full term may not be as effective in preventing shoulder dystocia.

According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the birth injury occurs naturally in around 1 percent of babies with normal birth weights. However, the risk of shoulder dystocia is heightened to 10 percent with fetal macrosomia, or when a baby has a birth weight greater than 8 pounds, 13 ounces.

In most cases, shoulder dystocia is a preventable complication during the delivery process. It is up to doctors to monitor and detect fetal distress prior to childbirth. They are responsible for deciding whether an emergency cesarean section will reduce the risk of shoulder dystocia. Trying to pull a stuck baby out from the birth canal may lead to birth injuries such as brachial plexus palsy or broken bones.

It is important to note that determining fault can be more complicated than it might seem. If your child was injured and you believe someone else is fully or partially to blame, contact Chalik & Chalik to learn more about your rights.