Shoulder Dystocia

Birth Injury SignsShoulder dystocia describes a condition in which the shoulder of a fetus gets lodged behind the mother’s pubic bone. When this happens, the delivery room team must act quickly and competently to avoid causing any permanent medical problems. However, some babies are injured in the process as a result of medical malpractice or medical negligence.

There is some debate within the medical community how often shoulder dystocia occurs. By some accounts, as little as 25-50% of cases are recorded by the delivery room physician in an effort to avoid liability in a birth injury lawsuit.

 Risk factors contributing to shoulder dystocia

While shoulder dystocia can occur during a delivery for no apparent reason, the following factors may increase the risk of shoulder dystocia:

  • Preeclampsia
  • Previous shoulder dystocia birth
  • Diabetes in the mother
  • Large fetal size
  • Small stature, abnormal pelvic anatomy, or obesity in the mother
Attending delivery room staff should be on alert for any risk factor and ready to take appropriate action when necessary.  Special maneuvers may be necessary to remove the obstruction and free the fetus for safe delivery.

Resulting birth injuries

Approximately 20% of babies with shoulder dystocia at birth sustain temporary or permanent injuries. Some are purely physical, sustained under the force of delivery; others are the result of prolonged oxygen deprivation or asphyxia.  Common injuries include:

  • Brachial plexus injury, including Erb’s Palsy
  • Bone fracture including humerus or clavicle
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Brain damage
  • Lacerations or cuts

Mothers are also at risk for postpartum bleeding and lacerations.

Talk to a birth injury lawyer

The birth injury attorneys of Balkin & Eisbrouch have spent decades fighting for families whose babies sustain serious injuries related to shoulder dystocia.  Our network of medical experts and investigators have abundant resources to help uncover the circumstances surrounding the birth and can help determine whether medical negligence is to blame.

If your child suffered a birth injury at the hands of the delivery room team, you and your child may be entitled to compensation.  Call Balkin & Eisbrouch today for a complimentary case evaluation. There are never any legal fees unless we recover monetary damages.