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Macrosomia and Shoulder Dystocia

Discuss Your Family’s Malpractice Claim with Connecticut Macrosomia and Shoulder Dystocia Attorneys

A newborn baby being carried by a family member.Despite the extraordinarily broad range of physical statures in which humans can develop, most start out roughly the same size. According to national statistics, most babies born in the United States fall within a range of roughly three pounds.

Of course, some babies grow faster, and larger, than others. When a baby’s estimated birth weight is around the 95th percentile or above, this is classified as macrosomia. While macrosomia does not present any inherent issues, when a fetus is larger than normal, this can potentially lead to complications for both the mother and the child.

How Is Macrosomia Linked to Shoulder Dystocia?

One of these complications is shoulder dystocia. The larger a fetus grows, the greater the risk becomes that his or her shoulders will be too wide to pass through the birth canal. Shoulder dystocia occurs when the fetus’s shoulders become lodged behind the mother’s pelvic bone. When this happens, the delivering doctor must exercise particular caution to ensure that the baby is delivered safely.

What Are the Risks Associated with Shoulder Dystocia?

Similar to macrosomia, shoulder dystocia is not inherently dangerous for the baby. If shoulder dystocia is identified promptly, and if the delivering doctor takes appropriate care to deliver the baby safely, then the baby can be born completely fine. However, if a delivering doctor errs and either fails to diagnose shoulder dystocia or asserts too much force on the baby’s shoulders during delivery, then this can lead to physical trauma that may have permanent consequences. These consequences can include:

  • Brain damage (if the baby suffers from loss of oxygen due to prolonged delivery)
  • Clavicle fracture
  • Developmental disabilities
  • Brachial plexus palsy, cerebral palsy, or Erb’s palsy
  • Permanent nerve damage
  • Paralysis

In addition, mothers can suffer traumatic injuries due to mismanagement of shoulder dystocia during childbirth as well. Lacerations, uterine rupture, and heavy bleeding are common and can require prompt and invasive treatment in order to mitigate the risk of long-term or permanent complications.

What Should Doctors Do to Prevent Fetal and Maternal Injuries Due to Shoulder Dystocia?

There are several steps that doctors can, and generally should take, to prevent fetal and maternal injuries due to shoulder dystocia. These steps begin during pregnancy. If a mother or fetus presents risk factors for macrosomia, the mother’s doctor should plan accordingly and monitor the fetus’s development to determine whether a preterm or cesarean section (C-section) birth may be necessary. Some examples of risk factors that can increase the chances of shoulder dystocia resulting from macrosomia include:

  • Delivery after the mother’s expected due date
  • Excessive weight gain during pregnancy
  • History of macrosomia
  • Maternal diabetes
  • Maternal obesity
  • Multiple pregnancy (i.e., being pregnant with twins or triplets, one or more of whom has macrosomia)
  • Pregnancy after age 35
  • Prior pregnancies

During vaginal delivery of a baby with macrosomia, the delivering doctor should take care to ensure that neither the mother nor the baby suffers injuries due to shoulder dystocia. This includes:

  • Making sure not to pull on the baby’s head or shoulders with forceps or a vacuum extractor
  • Manipulating the fetus’s position in the birth canal to allow the shoulders to pass the mother’s pelvic bone
  • Recommending that the mother change position in order to help the baby’s shoulders pass the pelvic bone
  • Recommending an emergency C-section, if necessary

What Can Parents Do If a Mother or Child Suffers Injuries Due to Shoulder Dystocia?

Shoulder dystocia text on patient chart with a stethoscope.Following childbirth resulting in maternal or fetal injuries due to shoulder dystocia, parents should consult with a trusted Connecticut lawyer handling macrosomia and shoulder dystocia cases about their legal rights. In most cases, these types of injuries can be avoided with appropriate medical care. As a result, injuries caused by shoulder dystocia can often support claims for malpractice, and filing a malpractice claim can be crucial to cover the expenses associated with treatment for these injuries.

In addition to medical treatment costs, Connecticut law allows families to recover additional forms of financial compensation in birth injury malpractice claims. This includes compensation for loss of income, loss of future earning capacity, emotional trauma, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and various other forms of loss. At Berkowitz Hanna, our Connecticut macrosomia and shoulder dystocia lawyers have decades of experience helping families recover financial compensation for birth injuries, and we can use our experience to make sure you and your family receive the compensation you deserve.

Contact Our Experienced Connecticut Macrosomia and Shoulder Dystocia Lawyers to Learn More

Do you have questions about filing a malpractice claim for maternal or fetal injuries resulting from macrosomia and shoulder dystocia? If so, one of our Connecticut macrosomia and shoulder dystocia attorneys would be happy to speak with you in confidence. To schedule an appointment at your convenience, call us or request a free consultation online today.