Studies have shown that large babies have a higher rate of complications that can lead certain to, fetal, neonatal, infant, and long-term injuries and disabilities. One of the greatest concerns associated with high birth weight is the increased risk of brain damage due to complications during delivery. Cerebral palsy, developmental delays, speech impediments, learning disabilities, paralysis, and even death have all been linked to brain injuries suffered by large babies during birth.
The risks of high birth weight can be reduced and even eliminated with appropriate medical treatment. However, when doctors, nurses, and hospitals commit errors during labor or delivery, the results can be severe.
Brain Injury Risks for Large Babies
A baby whose weight is in the 90th percentile for his or her gestational age is generally considered to be a “large baby.” There are number of factors that can lead to higher-than-normal birth weights, including maternal age, weight and diabetes. In addition, under normal circumstances, babies continue to grow as long as they are in the womb, so overdue babies are more likely to be larger – even if their weight is not otherwise outside of the typical range. This is known as “fetal macrosomia.”
Larger babies are at greater risk for certain complications that can lead to brain injuries during birth. These include:
- Shoulder dystocia
- The umbilical cord becoming pinched during labor
- Overmedication of the mother, leading to excessive uterine stimulation
- Fetal distress
These can result in decreased oxygen supply (hypoxia) and decreased blood flow (ischemia) to the baby’s brain, which can lead to brain damage.
In addition, complications such as placental abruption are more common for older mothers – especially after age 40 – and therefore may be more common among larger babies as well.
How Medical Errors Lead to Brain Injuries
Failure to Diagnose and Other Medical Errors
Birth-related brain injuries can be prevented if the risk factors are properly managed. In addition to the conditions mentioned above, these can include problems with the mothers’ blood pressure, neonatal anemia, infections, preeclampsia and eclampsia, and trauma during delivery. When a doctor fails to diagnose a condition that creates an increased risk for brain injuries, this is a mistake that can give rise to a claim for medical malpractice. Medical errors while facilitating labor and delivery can lead to problems as well.
Medical Errors During Induction and Augmentation
Due to the increased risks associated with higher birth weights, induction and augmentation of labor can in appropriate circumstances be the safest options for large babies. However, induction and augmentation – facilitated by the drug, Pitocin – carry their own risks as well.
Early-term induction in particular is closely correlated with a number of potentially serious complications, though these can be mitigated with proper medical care. On the other hand, medical errors during induction can have drastic consequences, including brain injuries. Many of these errors are associated with improper administration of Pitocin during the delivery process. Before being induced, it is important to have your doctor explain all of the potential risks involved.
Contact The Becker Law Firm
If your baby suffered a brain injury during delivery or is experiencing developmental delays or other signs of brain damage, it is important to speak with someone right away. Your baby’s condition may be the result of a medical error, and you may be entitled to significant compensation to cover your medical expenses and other losses. To learn more about what an experienced medical malpractice attorney can do to help, please contact us today.