Fetal Macrosomia Injury at Birth
New Jersey Lawyers for Large Babies with Birth Trauma Injuries
If you have been told that your fetus is macrosomic, this means that they are unusually large in size for their gestational age. Gestational age simply refers to how far along a woman is in her pregnancy. In order for a newborn to be diagnosed with macrosomia, they must be larger than most newborns, meaning 8 pounds 13 ounces or larger. Approximately 9% of all babies have this condition. The average newborn weight is 7.5 pounds, but babies that overload on nutrients in utero may develop macrosomia. In many cases, a mother with pregnancy risk factors like diabetes will have a child with fetal macrosomia. When this condition exists, doctors must be aware of the many birth injuries that an abnormally large baby is at risk for. Babies born weighing nearly 10 pounds and over are especially at higher risk for fetal macrosomia complications during labor and delivery, including oxygen deprivation, fetal distress, and shoulder dystocia. The mother is also at increased risk for traumatic injuries while giving birth, making it vital for doctors to take action when fetal macrosomia is suspected.
Frequently monitoring and educating a woman throughout pregnancy to prevent fetal macrosomia whenever possible, recognizing an abnormally large fetus, and planning the birth strategy accordingly, are among the doctor’s chief responsibilities during this critical time. In fact, failure to appropriately manage fetal macrosomia may be considered medical negligence when it leads to harm for the child or the mother.
If you or your child sustained injuries related to medical errors with fetal macrosomia, you may have grounds for a lawsuit. Healthcare providers who fail to monitor, plan for, or manage labor and delivery may be held accountable under the law in New Jersey. In many cases, birth injuries from negligence with a large baby can cost you and your family excessive amounts in medical expenses. Our experienced birth injury attorneys can help you seek a financial recovery for the costs of medical needs, future accommodations and therapies, loss of income, and pain and suffering. Contact us today at (866)-708-8617 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.
Fetal Macrosomia Causes and Risk Factors
Fetal macrosomia may result from maternal genetics, obesity, or diabetes. As such, precautions like keeping diabetes under control, losing weight, or keeping weight within recommended healthy range during pregnancy can reduce the risk of fetal macrosomia. Women over 35 or under 17, male infants, a prior macrosomic pregnancy, the mother having been a large baby herself, and overdue pregnancies by two weeks are predictors of the condition, but the primary factors are obesity, diabetes, and pregnancy weight gain. A rarer cause may be the baby’s medical condition affecting growth. If no other fetal macrosomia factors are present, a pregnant woman’s medical team may recommend diagnostic tests and genetic counseling during pregnancy to look for medical conditions causing the abnormal growth.
How is Fetal Macrosomia Diagnosed?
Indicators of the fetal macrosomia include: a larger than average distance between the mother’s pubic bone and top of the uterus, called the fundal height, and polyhydramnios or excess amniotic fluid. Although diagnosis is difficult prenatally, doctors can predict the size of a baby by looking at a patient’s medical history, manually measuring the size of the baby by placing hands on the abdomen, calculating the fundal height, and using sonograms to check for polyhydramnios. In addition, doctors know that the more pregnancies a woman has, the higher the likelihood of birth weight increases by about 4 ounces for each successive pregnancy, potentially leading to an abnormally large baby.
What are the Risks of Fetal Macrosomia?
A large baby can become stuck in the birth canal, leading to injuries, c-sections, or delivery by forceps or vacuum (a potential source of injury). Cesarean sections are recommended for diabetic mothers with babies over 9 pounds and 15 ounces; for mothers with babies born with shoulder dystocia, meaning the baby’s shoulder gets caught behind the pubic bone; or for fetuses 11 pounds and heavier. Shoulder dystocia potentially leads to bone fractures to the baby’s collarbone or humerus; injury to the brachial plexus (the nerves that connect to the arms and hands); or brain damage. It can also rupture the mother’s uterus, injure her vagina, or cause excessive bleeding. Baby’s with shoulder dystocia must be turned inside the birth canal by the obstetrician or by the mother changing her position to avoid a cesarean section, which should otherwise be ordered. Finally, large babies born to diabetic mothers are twice as likely to be stillborn.
After delivery, macrosomic babies are more commonly diagnosed with low blood sugar, jaundice, and breathing difficulties. Later, they are at higher risk for childhood obesity and metabolic syndrome, which is a combination of conditions like high blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar, as well as carrying extra weight. It can also create short and long-term maternal injuries after delivery, such as genital tract tissues and muscle tears, uterine rupture for women with previous c-sections, and vaginal bleeding.
Medical Negligence with Fetal Macrosomia
Since fetal macrosomia is not technically confirmed until the baby is born, doctors can prenatally over-diagnose or under-diagnose the condition. The dangers of a mistaken macrosomia diagnosis are delivery of a premature baby and preventative cesarean complications when the c-section decision is based on inaccurate sonogram weight estimates. The dangers of under-diagnosing the condition are a baby suffering serious harm related to shoulder dystocia, permanent nerve damage, birth trauma, lack of oxygen, and other injuries. If macrosomia is suspected, doctors should consider the amniotic fluid, gestational age, multiple births, pelvic tumors, and uterine fibroids as contributing factors to signs of a large baby, in addition to typical signs like diabetes, obesity, pregnancy weight gain, and genetics.
Since fetal macrosomia occurs in nearly one-tenth of all deliveries, obstetrical staff should be prepared to recognize the signs and symptoms of fetal macrosomia. While a large baby can be unavoidable due to genetic factors and many newborns weighing more than 8 pounds and 15 ounces deliver uneventfully with no adverse effects to mother or baby, some injuries are avoidable. As a result, it is imperative that doctors, nurses, and healthcare providers recognize, plan, and address any potential problems before birth, during, and after delivery. Some of the potential forms of medical malpractice that may result in injuries for the mother or baby include:
- Failure to perform a C-section
- Prolonged labor with delayed cesarean section
- Misuse of forceps
- Improperly employing vacuum extractors
- Excessive force when attempting to take the baby out of the birth canal
- Failing to address an emergency situation such as lack of oxygen
- Not providing the mother with all of the options available, informing her of the risks, or obtaining informed consent
- Errors calculating a baby’s weight that caused unnecessary premature delivery
Consult New Jersey Fetal Macrosomia Birth Injury Attorneys Today
If your doctor made careless mistakes with fetal macrosomia, which caused you or your baby injuries, you may be entitled to recuperate your medical costs and other losses. A birth related malpractice claim seeks to recover your past and future medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering due to a physician’s negligence. Our highly knowledgeable New Jersey fetal macrosomia injury attorneys can explain your rights and legal options further, answer your questions, investigate your case thoroughly, and zealously pursue compensation for you and your family. Call (866)-708-8617 for a free consultation today.