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The surprising link between large babies and birth trauma

In the United States, birth-related traumas occur in about 2.9% of all births. This trauma can be something minor like a scrape, cut or in more serious circumstances, something major like a fracture.

Each case is different. Birth trauma is typically the result of failure to use instruments properly when removing the fragile newborn from Mother or improper (i.e. rough) handling of the infant after the delivery.

Some babies are more likely to receive birth related injuries. While they may appear more healthy and ready to face the world than their much smaller peers, babies who are significantly larger than average are at increased risk of injury.

Because of this, they should be thoroughly examined by medical staff post-delivery to assure that they have not experienced some form of trauma that requires tests and medical care. Failure to recognize such trauma could result in further trauma to the child, not to mention, prolonged pain and discomfort that no newborn should have to endure.

But what is a large baby? Babies who weigh greater than 8 pounds 13 ounces (4000 grams) are considered large. At about 9 pounds 13 ounces (4500 grams), they are considered much larger than average. The clinical name for a large baby is macrosomia. Determining if a baby will be born large is still hard to do prior to a weigh in after birth. So it is not something that doctors and nurses will likely be aware of prior to or during birth.

Several factors can cause a baby to be large. Among them, a common cause is gestational diabetes, which is when the mother has diabetes only during pregnancy. Also, obesity can lead to a higher weight baby. And ethnicity and the sex of the baby can play a role. Boys tend to be larger than girls and are therefore more susceptible. It is estimated that around 5-10 percent of babies are large. And a pregnancy that results in a large baby may not even have any typical risk factors.

So, what should you, as the new mother or father, be on the lookout for?

Of trauma cases for large babies, a broken collarbone is not uncommon. This occurs when the baby experiences shoulder dystocia, which means that after the head comes out, the shoulder is stuck inside and gets pulled back until the collarbone snaps. The collarbone should heal on its own with no further damage, but it is something that a new parent should be aware of when handling the baby.

Nerve damage and reduced oxygen to the brain can occur, but are less common.

Because those delivering the baby, may use tools to extract the baby, a limb could be broken on the large baby. Just last month a large baby was born via c-section. His parents immediately realized that he seemed to have little control over his arm despite appearing to have full range and use while in the womb, as determined by ultrasound. They tested the boy for collarbone injury, but did not recognize that the boy's arm bone was completely snapped in half. It was only confirmed much later.

If a child suffers from an injury during birth, it may be helpful to talk to a lawyer to determine what liability the medical staff may have in either causing the injury or failing to recognize that an injury has occurred.

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Law Offices of Raymond J. Slomski, P.C.

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