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Shoulder dystocia: symptoms and causes

Shoulder dystocia is a type of birth injury that a small percentage of babies incur where one or both of their shoulders becomes stuck in the mother's pelvis. The baby then becomes wedged in the birth canal, and the pressure of the mother's body during delivery could break the baby's arm or collarbone; damage nerves in the shoulder, arm or hand; and deprive him or her of oxygen. Texas residents may want to know more to determine if their baby has this condition.

Most injuries heal within 6 to 12 months with no complications for the long term. In extreme cases, though, shoulder dystocia can lead to permanent paralysis and even death, and a prolonged lack of oxygen can cause brain damage.

Babies could also develop Erb's palsy where damage to the nerves in the arms and spinal cord creates a loss of mobility and sensation in the arms, hands and fingers. The condition usually lasts a few months but could become permanent. Lastly, mothers could suffer from hemorrhaging or from tearing in the cervix and birth canal.

Several factors could combine to result in shoulder dystocia. The baby may be large and beyond his or her due date. Alternately, the mother's pelvis may be too small, or the mother may be obese, have diabetes or be carrying multiple babies.

Doctors may be partly to blame as well; for example, they could make mistakes while using forceps or vacuums to assist in delivery. Parents of injured infants might consider filing a birth injury claim if they believe that medical negligence had a part to play. A lawyer may be able to request an inquiry with the medical board, hire medical experts to show the extent of the injuries and handle all negotiations for a settlement.

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