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Shoulder dystocia leads to medical expenses, injuries

Even the slightest health risk or complication has been known to worry pregnant women and soon-to-be fathers for generations. Certainly no California parent wants to find him or herself facing a situation in which their baby is at risk for a serious health complication or birth injury. One relatively rare but still potentially serious birth injury that may worry parents is shoulder dystocia.

When shoulder dystocia occurs, one or both of an infant's shoulders becomes stuck in the mother's pelvis while she is delivering. The mother will try to push the baby out, but because the infant is stuck, there can be complications for both mother and child.

A mother can suffer from a uterine rupture, hemorrhaging, tearing or bruising of the cervix or vagina. A baby, who might be suffering from a lack of oxygen due to the compromised position, may also experience a broken arm or collarbone, as well as nerve damage in the hand, arm or shoulder.

Often, the injuries that occur with shoulder dystocia heal within six to 12 months. However, the condition does pose a risk of a child suffering permanent disability, and it could potentially even be fatal in the worst of cases. The lack of oxygen may lead to brain damage, or a baby may experience permanent paralysis in the most severe cases. There may be extensive medical expenses associated with the injury.

Typically, shoulder dystocia does not become evident until labor has already begun. If a physician does not promptly recognize that shoulder dystocia is occurring, or correct it upon identification, there may be heightened danger for mother and child.

If your baby experienced shoulder dystocia during childbirth, there may be legal options that can provide compensation for any injuries. An attorney may be able to discuss your options with you, helping you address this and other birth defects caused by a negligent doctor. Additionally, this could help parents recover compensation for the damages caused in the matter.

Source: FindLaw, "Birth Injury: Shoulder Dystocia," accessed Nov. 6, 2015

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