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Shoulder Dystocia

Shoulder Dystocia is a rare obstetric complication that can occur during vaginal deliveries in which the baby’s shoulder becomes trapped. One or both of the fetal shoulders get stuck on the mother’s pelvic bones. Among the risk factors for shoulder dystocia are:

  • History of shoulder dystocia in a previous vaginal delivery
  • Fetal macrosomia, or having an unusually large head in comparison to the body
  • Diabetes or impaired tolerance for glucose
  • Extreme weight gain of more than 35 pounds
  • Obesity

Injuries following shoulder dystocia

After deliveries involving shoulder dystocia, 20 percent of babies will sustain an injury that is either temporary or permanent. The injuries that occur the most frequently are: damage to the brachial plexus nerves, contusions and lacerations, birth asphyxia, fractured clavicles and fractured humeri.

Of these, brachial plexus injury is the most common. The two principal kinds of brachial plexus injury are Erb’s palsy and Klumpke palsy. Erb’s palsy, which takes place more often, impacts the upper arm muscles and causes abnormal placement of the scapula.

Maternal injuries following shoulder dystocia

The mother may also suffer from complications after shoulder dystocia. The most frequent complications that the mother may experience are extreme loss of blood and vulvar lacerations. The considerable blood loss, which takes place in 25 percent of all deliveries involving shoulder dystocia, can be observed either at the time of delivery or during the postpartum period.

Consequences of shoulder dystocia

Although shoulder dystocia occurs in only 0.5 percent to 1.0 percent of all deliveries, several thousands of mothers will suffer from this complication because there are about four million deliveries in any given year in the United States. There will be about 200 to 400 babies born every year in the U.S. with permanent brachial plexus injury after deliveries involving shoulder dystocia. Furthermore, as a result of shoulder dystocia, many babies will suffer serious neurologic injury, including cerebral palsy from asphyxia. Shoulder dystocia can also be fatal.

When a baby has been seriously injured, it is possible that the obstetrician was negligent in permitting the occurrence of shoulder dystocia or in failing to properly resolve the condition upon its appearance. If the parents believe that the physician was negligent, then they can file a birth injury lawsuit to hold the doctor liable, and to secure damages. If your baby suffered a birth injury due to the negligence of a doctor or hospital, call the birth injury attorneys at Chalik & Chalik Injury Lawyers.

Other Types of Birth Injuries:

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