Shoulder dystocia is a birth injury that affects between 0.2% and 3% of pregnancies in Ohio and across the U.S. Though it usually does not cause permanent damage to the baby or mother, it’s hard to predict and prevent.

Dystocia literally means a difficult labor. Shoulder dystocia is a condition arising during a difficult labor where the baby’s shoulder gets stuck in the mother’s pelvis. It may occur to both shoulders. The condition can fracture the collarbone and arm; damage the nerves in the brachial plexus, which control movement and feeling in the shoulder and arm; and, in severe cases, cut off oxygen to the baby. The mother may suffer from tearing and heavy bleeding.

There are several factors that increase the risk for shoulder dystocia. They include macrosomia, when a baby weighs over 4,000 grams at birth; a multiple birth; and a mother who is overweight, gained an excessive amount of weight during the pregnancy or has diabetes. Taking epidurals and using birth-assisting tools like forceps are other risk factors.

The one way that doctors can prevent the possibility of shoulder dystocia is to have the mother undergo a C-section. This is recommended when the baby weighs over 5,000 grams or when the baby weighs at least 4,500 grams but the mother is diabetic.

Many birth injuries are caused by medical negligence, in which case the parents may be able to seek compensation for the cost of treating their baby’s injuries and other economic and non-economic damages. This means filing a malpractice claim. Before filing, parents may want to hire a lawyer. The lawyer could conduct an independent investigation and bring in witnesses if necessary. Furthermore, an attorney can handle all negotiations for a reasonable settlement.