Can Inducing Labor Cause a Birth Injury

Yes, it can. In fact, many decisions made by obstetricians and other doctors in the labor and delivery room can cause birth injuries. These injuries, in turn, can have a profound or even fatal effect on the child. 

You may think that birth injuries never happen. But the truth is that birth injuries occur in 2 to 10 out of every 10,000 births, or almost 1%. On top of that, 20,000 infants die every year. Many of these deaths occur because of improper and unnecessary medical interventions, including improper labor inductions.

The results of any kind of birth injury on an induced or natural birth are almost always devastating. If improperly induced labor causes harm to you or a loved one, you should consider taking legal action to hold the negligent actor accountable. 

Risks of Labor Induction

Labor induction typically involves the administration of medications like Pitocin (a synthetic form of oxytocin) or the use of mechanical methods to ripen the cervix. This process is usually recommended when the health of the mother or baby is at risk. However, induced labor can sometimes lead to complications, both for the mother and the newborn. There are many risks of labor induction, but five warrant special consideration.

Failed Induction

One of the most common risks of labor induction is that it might not work. This is particularly true if the woman’s cervix isn’t ready for labor. In such cases, a cesarean section (C-section) may be necessary. Unfortunately, C-sections carry their own set of risks, including infection, blood clots, and complications from anesthesia.

Uterine Rupture

Although it’s rare, uterine rupture is a serious possible side effect of inducing labor. This happens when the uterine wall tears during labor. For obvious reasons, this can endanger both the mother and the baby. Just one consequence of uterine rupture is significant blood loss. Uterine rupture is more common in women who have had previous C-sections or other uterine surgeries.

Fetal Distress

The drugs used to induce labor, such as Pitocin, can cause abnormal or excessive contractions. These excessive contractions can reduce the baby's oxygen supply, causing a condition known as fetal distress. If the baby doesn't get enough oxygen, serious complications may follow, including brain damage and death.

Neonatal Jaundice

Studies indicate that babies born after labor induction are more likely to develop neonatal jaundice. Jaundice is the result of an excess of bilirubin (a waste material in the blood). It can cause the baby’s skin and eyes to turn yellow. In severe cases, high levels of bilirubin can also cause damage to the infant’s nervous system.

Postpartum Hemorrhage

Labor induction, especially when it involves the use of prostaglandins, is associated with an increased risk of postpartum hemorrhage. This is a condition where the mother experiences heavy bleeding after giving birth. Postpartum hemorrhage can lead to a severe drop in blood pressure, shock, and in extreme cases, can be life-threatening.

Putting It All Together

These risks underscore the importance of careful consideration and thorough discussion with healthcare providers when making decisions about labor and delivery. In some cases, the benefits of inducing labor may outweigh the potential risks, especially if there are concerns about the health of the mother or the baby. But if you believe your doctor unnecessarily induced labor that led to injury, we recommend seeking legal advice.

What Are Common Birth Injuries Caused by Labor Induction?

Inducing labor leads to many kinds of complications and injuries, but some are particularly common. Let’s consider those in more depth. 

First, Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy HIE occurs when the baby’s brain doesn’t receive enough oxygen (hypoxia) and blood flow (ischemia). This can be due to overly strong and frequent contractions (uterine hyperstimulation) caused by labor-inducing drugs. Such contractions may compress the umbilical cord or placenta, reducing the oxygen supply to the baby. The result can be brain damage leading to long-term conditions like cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and cognitive impairments.

Brachial plexus injuries are another common injury, where overly strong contractions from the induction process cause the baby’s shoulder to get stuck behind the mother’s pubic bone. Doctors refer to this condition as “shoulder dystocia.” When medical personnel attempt to free the baby, they can damage the brachial plexus nerves in the shoulder.  These nerves help control arm and hand movements, so when they suffer damage, all kinds of terrible conditions can result. Just two examples are Erb’s palsy and Klumpke’s palsy. Both these conditions involve weakness, loss of motion, and even permanent disability in the affected arm.

These are just two of the most common birth injuries caused by labor induction. Other examples include bone fractures, brain bleeding, and spinal damage. 

What Should You Do If You or a Loved One Are the Victim of Improperly Induced Labor?

Whether the improperly induced labor happened last month to a friend or at your birth decades ago, it can have crushing and traumatic effects. But you can take steps to lessen the damage and prepare yourself for potential compensation later on. 

The first key step is to seek medical attention if improperly induced labor has happened recently. Doing so will help reduce the negative effects. Next, keep a detailed record of all the events that happen before, during, and after the birth. This includes doctor’s appointments, the labor process, the administered medications, and the recorded complications or injuries. Also, make sure you keep all medical records and bills. 

Finally, reach out to a lawyer. They can guide you through the process of filing a medical malpractice claim. 

Let Our Attorneys Get You the Compensation You Deserve

There’s usually just one reason why people ask, Can inducing labor cause a birth injury? And that’s because they or a loved one experienced an induced labor and a birth injury. Recovery from needless induced labor can reduce the length and quality of your life. It can also cost you millions in medical bills and lost wages. If you experienced such an injury, you need a good medical malpractice attorney. 

At O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble, LLC, we are more than just a law firm—we are a formidable alliance of seasoned attorneys bringing over a century’s worth of collective experience to the table. Our roots run deep in New Jersey’s legal landscape, having blossomed from the merger of two of the state’s most respected law practices. Our specialization in personal injury litigation, particularly medical malpractice claims, has brought unparalleled success and peace of mind to countless clients. When you choose to work with us, you’re choosing a firm with a proven track record, unyielding dedication, and the respect of peers. We will always fight for your rights. Call today.

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