According to the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM), cephalopelvic disproportion (CPD) is rare and occurs only in 1 out of 250 pregnancies. However, that does not make the consequences any less devastating if it happens to you or someone you know. Cephalopelvic disproportion occurs when a baby’s head or body is too large to fit through the mother’s pelvis during birth, and it can lead to severe and permanent injuries.
If you want to learn more about cephalopelvic disproportion and the basis for a possible legal claim against a doctor, hospital, or other provider, read on and contact our birth injury lawyer.
What is Cephalopelvic Disproportion?
Cephalopelvic disproportion happens when the size of the baby’s head and the size of the mother’s pelvis are mismatched. In other words, the baby’s head is too large for the mother’s pelvis, failing to progress in labor. Left undiagnosed and untreated, the obstructed labor can endanger both the mother and baby.
Cephalopelvic Disproportion Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
Birth injuries are a common type of medical malpractice that can occur at many stages of care, including prenatal (pregnancy), labor, delivery, and immediate postpartum.
If you or your baby is injured during the course of the birthing process, as the plaintiff, you have the burden of proving the doctor was negligent.
You must prove:
- A doctor-patient relationship and duty of care existed,
- Your doctor deviated from acceptable standards of care and breached their duty,
- Your doctor’s breach caused you or your baby harm and injury, and
- The injury caused compensable damages.
In sum, a doctor has a legal duty to perform their job in line with the acceptable standards of care among the same medical community. Your physician commits medical malpractice if they deviate from the reasonable standard of care that another physician in the same field of medicine would have adhered to.
If you can successfully prove your case, you may be entitled to damages for:
- Past and future medical expenses,
- Home modifications,
- Pain and suffering,
- Permanent disfigurement,
- Emotional and mental anguish, and
- Loss of enjoyment of life.
A birth injury lawyer can help you better assess your situation and what you might expect to recover.
Cephalopelvic Disproportion Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice in a cephalopelvic disproportion case can take many forms. The basis for these legal claims can include:
- Failure to properly diagnose cephalopelvic disproportion;
- Failure to diagnose a pregnancy-related condition that puts mom and baby at a greater risk of CPD;
- Failure to use or improper use of fetal monitoring equipment to determine whether the baby is in CPD-related fetal distress;
- Lack of proper birthing methods in response to cephalopelvic disproportion;
- Failure to recommend an emergency C-section;
- Pulling or tugging on the baby during birth to free them from the birth canal;
- Improper use of forceps, vacuums, or other birth-assisting tools; and
- Failure to detect and address CPD in an unborn child.
Not every case of cephalopelvic disproportion or other birth complication is the result of malpractice. However, we strongly encourage you to speak with an attorney to assess your case and determine whether you are eligible to bring a claim.
Causes and Signs of Cephalopelvic Disproportion
Several causes or factors can lead to and contribute to CPD. Many of those will present signs that doctors should recognize and diagnose, leading them to develop a proper treatment plan.
Common causes of cephalopelvic disproportion include:
- Baby’s head is abnormally large or shaped,
- Mother’s pelvis is small or narrow,
- Past due date,
- Larger than average baby,
- Abnormal fetal positions, and
- Abnormally shaped pelvis.
These signs should signal to a medical professional that they should be monitoring for signs of CPD. Some of the tell-tale signs that a baby is suffering from CPD are:
- Prolonged labor;
- Fetal distress;
- Large fundal height (i.e., measurement of the distance between the pubic bone and the top of the mother’s uterus); and
- Higher than average volume of amniotic fluid.
It is imperative that if a patient is experiencing any of these signs of CPD during pregnancy, the doctor adequately addresses it, determines the underlying cause, and discusses the safest options for labor and delivery.
Diagnosing Cephalopelvic Disproportion
Diagnosing CPD can be challenging, and even if all appropriate measures are taken, a diagnosis ahead of labor and delivery is not always possible. However, if a doctor or medical provider is concerned about possible CPD, there are several methods they might employ to diagnose or rule out CPD, including:
- Physical pelvic exam,
- Xray or CT scan of the pelvis, and
- MRI of the pelvis.
Prenatal and labor and delivery monitoring can be essential to ensure the safety of the baby and mother and avoid birth injuries such as cephalopelvic disproportion. If your doctor fails to abide by the accepted standard of medical care and it leads to CPD injury, you may have a viable medical malpractice claim.
Complications and Birth Injuries Due to Cephalopelvic Disproportion
CPD can cause severe complications for both the mother and child during and after labor. Complications to the mother associated with CPD are as follows:
- Injuries to the birth canal and vagina include lacerations, tearing, excessive bleeding, and a fractured tailbone;
- Uterine rupture; and
- Excessive post-delivery bleeding.
For the baby, complications from CPD can include physical injuries from the misuse of forceps or a vacuum and a deprivation of oxygen, leading to severe and possibly permanent damage. The following are sometimes the end result of CPD complications:
- Cerebral palsy,
- Developmental delays,
- Seizure disorders,
- Paralysis, and
The consequences of CPD complications can vary widely from mild to severe, temporary to permanent. Often, CPD complications can result in life-long consequences for the child.
O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble: New Jersey Birth Injury Attorneys
Birth injuries caused by medical negligence are some of the worst types of doctor and healthcare provider malpractice. Birth injuries can be particularly devastating to the child, mother, and family. We understand how scared, hurt, and confused you might feel. We have decades of experience obtaining multimillion-dollar verdicts and settlements for our medical malpractice clients, including a $28 million verdict and a $14.9 million settlement. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.