Recent Academic Study Finds Doctors Regularly Underestimate Birth Weight, Increasing the Risk of Certain Birth Injuries

Maryland medical providers have a legal responsibility to treat a patient with care that meets or exceeds the professional standard of care in the relevant medical field, and a failure to meet that standard of care may put a provider at risk of malpractice liability. A recent academic study released by the Journal of Perinatology (the specific field of obstetrics relating to high-risk pregnancies) has suggested that medical providers regularly underestimate the weight of babies to be delivered by a mother’s second or subsequent vaginal delivery, which can give a false sense of security in the delivery room and increase the risk of a brachial plexus birth injury to an infant.

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What is the Brachial Plexus, and How Can it be Injured During Birth?

The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that connects the brain and spinal cord to the arms, shoulders, and hands. During a prolonged or difficult birth, a baby’s shoulders can become wedged in the birth canal, and these nerves may become damaged, leading to full or partial paralysis in the infant’s arms.

If a fetus is larger than average, the risk of brachial plexus injury can be increased. The Maryland professional standard of care may require doctors in the delivery room to predict if a brachial plexus birth injury could occur as a result of a delivery and take action to prevent it, including possibly ordering a cesarean section to be performed to reduce or eliminate the risk of such a birth injury.

The New Study Shows That Doctors Regularly Underestimate the Weight of Some Infants

The recently released study was designed to determine whether the risk of brachial plexus injury was higher in a first-time vaginal birth or in subsequent vaginal births. The researchers concluded that although the risk of such an injury is not necessarily higher in subsequent births, a routine underestimation of the weight of the subsequently naturally delivered infants may result in doctors failing to notice the risk of brachial plexus injury and neglecting to take preventative or remedial measures in time to prevent an injury. The authors urged medical providers not to think that a prior vaginal delivery in a patient will reduce the risk of a brachial plexus injury.

Families who have had a child with a brachial plexus birth injury or who was born with Erb’s palsy may be entitled to compensation from the medical providers involved by consulting a Maryland birth injury attorney about possibly seeking compensation through a medical malpractice lawsuit.

How to Contact a Qualified Birth Injury Attorney

If you or a loved one has given birth to a child with a brachial plexus birth injury, or any other birth injury to the mother or child, the qualified Maryland and Washington, D.C. birth injury attorneys at Wais, Vogelstein, Forman & Offutt are happy to talk about your case. Our dedicated advocates have significant experience handling many types of birth injury and malpractice cases, and we can help you seek the compensation that you deserve. We focus our practice on birth injuries and medical malpractice, and we represent victims of medical malpractice nationwide. Contact the qualified Maryland and D.C. birth injury attorneys at Wais, Vogelstein, Forman & Offutt today. Call us at (410) 567-0800 or contact us through our website to schedule a risk-free consultation.

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