On average, women carry a fetus for approximately 40 weeks. In some cases, however, an induction performed by a medical professional may be advised prior to the woman reaching 40 weeks’ gestation. Larger babies, for example, are at risk of experiencing shoulder dystocia, a condition in which the baby becomes stuck in the birth canal after the head has been delivered.
According to the lead author of a European study, the risks associated with an induction of an unusually large fetus prior to 39 weeks’ gestation outweigh the risks of the baby developing shoulder dystocia during birth. Generally, the concerns regarding an early delivery involve the possibility of having a Cesarean section performed and neonatal respiratory and other health issues upon birth for the infant. A full-term infant experiencing shoulder dystocia, however, could suffer from suffocation, spinal nerve damage and fractures if one or both shoulders become wedged in the birth canal. Thus, the researchers wanted to investigate the benefits of inducing labor in mothers of large babies one to two weeks early.
The researchers identified approximately 800 women carrying babies that were considered large for their gestational age. Roughly half the women were induced around 37 to 38 weeks’ gestation; the other half began labor naturally or were induced for medical reasons unrelated to the induction group. According to the research findings, about 1 incident of shoulder dystocia was prevented for every 25 births when the mothers were induced prior to being full-term. Additionally, only 2 percent of the induced newborns suffered fractures due to shoulder dystocia, whereas 6 percent of the monitored group sustained injuries.
If medical negligence results in a birth injury, the family may want to consult with an attorney experienced in malpractice. The family may be able to seek compensation for medical expenses related to the newborn’s injuries.