“Approximately 1% of all births are complicated by a shoulder dystocia,” said Michael A. Bottar, Esq., a Syracuse birth injury lawyer with Bottar Leone, PLLC, a law firm with decades of experience representing babies diagnosed with Erb’s palsy following a brachial plexus injury during birth.
A shoulder dystocia occurs when a baby’s head passes into the birth canal but the anterior shoulder becomes stuck behind the mother’s pubic bone. At this critical point in time, a baby typically has a compromised oxygen supply because of umbilical cord compression and is not yet breathing room air. In turn, medical staff has only minutes to perform maneuvers to free the baby or risk oxygen deprivation and permanent brain damage which can lead to cerebral palsy, or physical injuries such as collar bone fractures and nerve damage leading to Erb’s palsy and Klumpke’s paralysis.
Approximately 20% of all shoulder dystocias result in an injury to the baby. Often times, a shoulder dystocia is unpredictable. However, there are know risk factors including: a prior shoulder dystocia, diabetes, an inadequate pelvis, fetal macrosomia, post-date gestation, preeclampsia, and maternal obesity.
Recently, a Montreal physician developed an algorithm that can calculate risk for a shoulder dystocia. That algorithm can be incorporated into computer software, known as the CALM Shoulder Screen, to help obstetricians and nurses predict labor and delivery complications. The web-based program is reported to be effective at 37 weeks gestation.
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