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Birth Injuries Stemming from Cephalopelvic Disproportion

The Becker Law Firm, LPA

Numerous types of childbirth problems can happen during labor and delivery. Sometimes there is difficulty in getting the baby through the birth canal, a condition known as cephalopelvic disproportion.

As a result, it can cause fetal distress and may require the use of assistive devices, such as vacuum extraction or forceps. Unfortunately, using assistive devices could also result in the baby sustaining injuries.

Causes of Cephalopelvic Disproportion

There are a variety of childbirth problems that can cause cephalopelvic disproportion, one of the most common being a large-sized baby. This can happen in second and subsequent pregnancies, where babies are sometimes larger than the mother’s first child. Cephalopelvic disproportion can also be caused by a pregnancy that goes beyond the due date.

Another cause for the fetus to have difficulty getting through the birth canal is when the baby is in an abnormal position. There are different positions that oftentimes require an emergency cesarean section.

The following are examples of abnormal birth positions:

  • complete breech (knees and hips flexed, buttocks come out first);
  • frank breech (legs are straight and folded up toward chest); and
  • transverse (arm, shoulder or trunk comes out first).

Sometimes cephalopelvic disproportion is caused by problems with the mother’s pelvis, which could be too small or shaped abnormally.

Injuries Caused by Cephalopelvic Disproportion

Sometimes the OB-GYN knows ahead of time that this condition exists or is a risk factor, such as through an ultrasound showing the size of the baby or the mother goes into labor past her due date. However, most of the time cephalopelvic disproportion is not discovered until the time of labor and delivery.

What generally happens is labor and delivery will be delayed. When it is time, attempts may be made to speed things up, such as by giving oxytocin. Or, if the baby is in an abnormal position, the OB-GYN may try to turn it to a normal position.

If a delay causes fetal distress, such as oxygen deprivation, then efforts should be made to ensure a safe delivery. As mentioned, sometimes a safe delivery requires an emergency cesarean section. But in some instances it could mean the use of vacuum extraction or forceps.

There are also childbirth injuries stemming from problems using vacuum extraction or forceps including skull fractures, facial injuries, nerve/tissue damage, lacerations, and bruising. The head is most likely to be damaged, with the potential for swelling and bleeding.

Oxygen deprivation in a prolonged delivery can cause irreversible brain damage. If the baby is forced through the birth canal, it can lead to a condition called shoulder dystocia. When a limb becomes stuck, it can lead to a fracture or nerve damage, and severe cases it could cause paralysis.

Failing to take measures to prevent injuries to the baby may be considered medical negligence. An example of negligence would be not performing a cesarean when it is necessary. Or, if there are mistakes made in the use of treatments, such as with assistive devices, it could lead to a medical malpractice claim.

To learn if childbirth problems or injuries caused from cephalopelvic disproportion were the result of medical negligence, it’s a good idea to seek legal counsel. A Cleveland medical malpractice law attorney at the Becker Law Firm may be able to assist with the filing of a claim and help you understand what types of compensation may be available if your child suffered injuries from cephalopelvic disproportion.

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