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The Risk Factors of Shoulder Dystocia

By Sean Burke on March 31, 2016

A couple and their childThe Law Offices of Sean M. Burke proudly serves the people of Orange County, helping injury victims and their loved ones in their time of legal need. This level of dedication is especially important when it comes to medical malpractice lawsuits over birth injuries. These kinds of matters can affect both mothers and children, with long-lasting repercussions.

We've previously looked at shoulder dystocia and the injuries it can cause mothers and their babies. Let's cover the basics and then consider risk factors for the condition that may prove predictive.

What Is Shoulder Dystocia?

Shoulder dystocia is a kind of obstructed labor issue. Specifically, shoulder dystocia occurs when a baby's head is outside of the vagina, but his or her shoulder gets stuck inside of the mother's body during delivery. This poses health risks for both the mother and the child if it is not addressed properly. Medical professionals need to act properly in order to address this birth problem should it occur.

Why Shoulder Dystocia Has to Be Taken Seriously

If not addressed properly, shoulder dystocia can result in serious injury to a child, which includes potential cases of cerebral palsy, Erb's palsy, Klumpke paralysis, injuries to the nerves of the shoulder and neck (brachial plexus), and fetal hyopxia. In some extreme cases in which a doctor or midwife is unable to free the child's shoulder, a baby may die.

For mothers, poorly addressed shoulder dystocia can result in lacerations to the vagina, rupture of the uterus, and post-partum hemorrhage.

Shoulder Dystocia Risk Factors

Common risk factors of shoulder dystocia include:

  • Shoulder dystocia during a previous pregnancy
  • Macrosomia (i.e., larger than average baby)
  • Issues with maternal obesity
  • Maternal diabetes
  • Advanced age of the mother
  • Abnormal pelvic shape

Keep in mind that combinations of these risk factors may be present. In addition, issues with the actual delivery and how it's performed can have a major impact on the chances of shoulder dystocia occurring. If a woman experiences a prolonged second stage of labor or instruments are used to deliver a child, the chances of shoulder dystocia can go up immensely.

What Doctors Can Do When Risk Factors Are Present

Should any risk factors be present during pregnancy, doctors should carefully monitor and health and wellness of the mother. When possible, these risk factors should be taken into account in the lead up to delivery so proper steps can be taken should shoulder dystocia occur.

How an Attorney Can Help You

If you or your child experienced an injury related to shoulder dystocia, there may have been medical negligence involved. Our team will meet with you seek damages to address injuries that you or your child may have suffered, holding the negligent doctor or midwife accountable for their poor judgment or harmful actions.

Contact the Law Offices of Sean M. Burke

To learn more about shoulder dstyocia and how these matters can be addressed by skilled legal professionals, be sure to contact our team of personal injury attorneys today. The team at the Law Offices of Sean M. Burke will fight diligently for you and your legal rights.

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