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3 Chronic Conditions Resulting from Shoulder Dystocia

Submitted by jrlaw on Oct 8th, 2009

As most people are aware, there are many complications that can occur during childbirth. One of the lesser known ones is called shoulder dystocia. This term refers to when, during delivery, the baby’s head passes through the mother’s pelvis, but the shoulders cannot pass through or at least not without a great deal of intervention.
The incidence of shoulder dystocia is approx. 0.6 – 1.4 percent of births among average sized babies and increases to 5 – 9 percent for larger babies (9lbs 14oz and up). When this problem occurs it can lead to a serious birth injury which can then result in a host of chronic challenges for the child, including cerebral palsy, Erb’s palsy and Klumpke paralysis.

  • Cerebral palsy is a condition that can occur when a baby’s brain is injured during birth. Those affected by cerebral palsy can have one or all of the following manifestations including: lack of muscle control, involuntary movements and mental disabilities.
  • Erb’s palsy occurs when the main nerves in the upper part of the arm are damaged. This injury results in paralysis of the arm, which can sometimes improve or correct itself, but often causes persistent issues.
  • Klumpke's palsy affects the muscles of the hand and forearm. Sufferers may experience numbness or paralysis in these areas.

Of the births where shoulder dystocia occurs, 20 percent will result in some sort of injury to the child. These injuries can be temporary or persistent. If you have a child who incurred a birth injury as a result of shoulder dystocia that you feel should have been anticipated, please fill out our form for a free evaluation.