Pitocin and Birth Injuries: What You Should Know

May 29, 2015 | Crandall & Pera Law
Pitocin and Birth Injuries: What You Should Know

Pitocin is the brand name of a drug called oxytocin, a natural hormone. Oxytocin is commonly administered to either induce labor or strengthen contractions during labor. While a Pitocin injection is generally considered helpful during difficult births, one study “found that the use of Pitocin to induce or augment labor was linked to unexpected admissions to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and to lower Apgar scores,” according to the Huffington Post.

The danger to an unborn child can be serious and potentially fatal. Once Pitocin has been administered, labor is either induced or hastened. If complications develop, or go unrecognized, the baby can be starved for oxygen.  Stronger contractions can increase the risk of shoulder dystocia, uterine rupture and placental abruption.  Doctors generally weigh the risks against the rewards and determine when Pitocin is necessary.

However, the numbers do not lie. The use of Pitocin during labor statistically correlates to a higher rate of problems for infants after birth. The Huffington Post also reported that “Pitocin use appeared to be a risk factor for babies being admitted to the NICU and staying for at least one day. It was also tied to Apgar scores of less than 7. A score under 7 is a red flag, indicating that the baby needs medical attention, but is not an indication that the newborn necessarily has a serious medical condition or that he or she will have lasting health issues.”

Use of the drug comes with risks for mom too. Pitocin is administered intravenously, and both mother and child are carefully monitored during labor. However, it can have unintended side effects, especially in mothers who suffer from conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, arrhythmia, and more. Allergic reactions to Pitocin can additionally complicate labor. Common symptoms of an allergic reaction to Pitocin include:

  • Fast, slow, or uneven heart rate

  • Excessive bleeding long after childbirth

  • Headache, confusion, slurred speech, hallucinations, severe vomiting, severe weakness, muscle cramps, loss of coordination, feeling unsteady, seizure (convulsions), fainting, shallow breathing or breathing that stops

  • Dangerously high blood pressure (severe headache, blurred vision, buzzing in your ears, anxiety, confusion, chest pain, shortness of breath, uneven heartbeats, seizure).

At Crandall & Pera Law, we have helped parents and their children from around Ohio and Kentucky who suffered because of problems with Pitocin injections. If you or your child were hurt as a result of Pitocin use during labor, you may be entitled to compensation. Please contact us for a free consultation.