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What Types of Birth Injuries Can Result From Shoulder Dystocia?

Posted on in Birth Injury

Chicago medical negligence attorney shoulder dystocia

Every expectant parent hopes that the birth of their child goes as smoothly as possible. Unfortunately, some births involve unexpected complications that put the baby at risk of serious injury or death. Shoulder dystocia, a condition that occurs when an infant’s shoulders become lodged in the mother’s pelvic area during birth, can be especially dangerous. Doctors and nurses must take swift action to prevent shoulder dystocia from developing into a life-threatening situation. If the medical staff does not properly prevent or respond to shoulder dystocia, the medical facility may be liable for any injuries that result.

Why Does Shoulder Dystocia Occur During Birth?

Shoulder dystocia occurs when a child’s head leaves the birth canal but his or her shoulders become stuck. The condition can result in a grave situation that must be dealt with quickly and precisely. There is no way to predict shoulder dystocia with 100 percent certainty, but there are certain factors that can make an infant more likely to suffer from this serious complication, including:

  • The mother has diabetes, is obese, or is pregnant with twins/multiples.

  • The mother has a history of delivering babies with high birth weights, or shoulder dystocia occurred in a previous birth.

  • Labor is induced.

  • The baby is overdue.

  • Forceps or a vacuum extractor is used to assist with delivery.

Harm Resulting from Shoulder Dystocia

In many cases, doctors can quickly correct shoulder dystocia and proceed with the birth before any injuries to the infant or the mother occur. However, serious problems can sometimes result from shoulder dystocia. When a baby’s shoulders are stuck inside the birth canal, but his or her head has been delivered, this puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the baby’s brachial plexus nerves. Brachial plexus injury can lead to Erb’s Palsy, Klumpke’s Palsy, and even partial or full paralysis of the baby’s arm. In some cases, shoulder dystocia reduces the flow of oxygen to the baby’s brain, which can result in brain damage, Cerebral Palsy, or infant death. Maternal injuries including uterine rupture, tissue damage, and hemorrhaging can also be caused by shoulder dystocia.

Medical Malpractice Can Lead to Complications

Because it is such a dangerous condition, doctors should immediately take steps to address shoulder dystocia when it occurs during birth. If a doctor fails to diagnose shoulder dystocia or take necessary precautions to prevent the condition from injuring the infant or the mother, the doctor or medical facility may be found liable for the resulting injuries. The family may be entitled to compensation for medical bills and ongoing costs related to the injuries.

Contact a Cook County Medical Negligence Lawyer

If you or your child have suffered injuries because shoulder dystocia was not properly diagnosed or treated during your child’s birth, you may have a valid medical malpractice claim. To discuss your situation with a highly experienced Chicago birth injury attorney, contact Birth Injury Law Alliance today at 312-945-1300 to schedule a free consultation.



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