Complications Caused by Shoulder Dystocia

January 30, 2012

Shoulder dystocia is a type of birth injury that happens when an infant’s shoulders become stuck in the mother’s birth canal during delivery. If there is too long of a delay between the emergence of the infant’s head and the emergence of its shoulders, your newborn’s health can be seriously compromised. Studies have shown that approximately 20% of infants who are delivered via shoulder dystocia suffer a temporary or permanent injury.

Some of the most common complications caused by shoulder dystocia include:

  • Brachial plexus injury – The brachial plexus is a bundle of nerves stretching from your neck to your spinal cord. If this nerve bundle is injured during delivery, your child can suffer partial or total paralysis.
  • Fractured clavicle – If the infant’s chest and shoulders are too large, the pressure placed on them during delivery can result in a fracture. Around 10% of children delivered with shoulder dystocia have a fractured clavicle.
  • Asphyxia – If the baby’s umbilical cord is tightly compressed for too long during a shoulder dystocia delivery, their blood supply can be dangerously decreased or completely cut off, causing the infant to suffer from a lack of oxygen.

A pregnant woman’s potential for shoulder dystocia should be detected before delivery. Based on factors like maternal size and fetus weight, physicians can determine whether or not birth injuries are likely long before a woman goes into labor. If there is a high chance of shoulder dystocia occurring, it can be avoided through an alternate delivery method, such as a C-section.

Doctors receive rigorous training in preparation for unforeseen complications like shoulder dystocia. If your doctor failed to detect or properly respond to an instance of shoulder dystocia and your child was injured as a result, we can help you hold them responsible through a medical malpractice case.

Make sure your child’s current and future needs are provided for. Please contact our experienced medical malpractice attorneys today to schedule a free case review.

Wapner Newman’s birth injury lawyers protect victims throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey, with offices in Allentown, Philadelphia, West Conshohocken, and Marlton.