Floridians may not know that pregnancies involving infants with a high birth weight might benefit from induced labor, which could minimize the risks of a difficult birth. In some cases, doctors induce labor at 37 to 38 weeks prior to the full term of 39 weeks. This occurs because the risks of waiting until full term to deliver may outweigh the risks of preterm delivery.
Shoulder dystocia is a condition that commonly affects larger infants and it occurs when one or both shoulders becomes stuck behind the mother’s pelvic bone after the head is delivered. In such cases, the infant may sustain fractures, nerve damage or even experience suffocation during the delivery process. Approximately 1 percent of all normal-weight infants develop dystocia during delivery while 10 percent of oversized babies develop the condition.
In one study, researchers compared labor-induced deliveries with natural deliveries and found that only 2 percent of induced deliveries resulted in dystocia compared to 6 percent of natural deliveries. It is expected that the potential benefits of induced labor would be diminished if labor was not induced until 39 weeks. Obstetricians face the decision between the health risks of delivering before 39 risks and those associated with delivering high birth weight babies past 37 to 38 weeks.
In cases where it is shown that an obstetrician could have taken steps to prevent injury to a high birth weight infant during delivery but did not, medical malpractice may have occurred. If the infant sustained birth injuries due to the doctor’s negligence, the physician may be liable for civil damages. From medical expenses to permanent disability, a negligent physician may be held financially responsible for any negative effects caused by a preventable birth injury.