Understanding Cephalopelvic Disproportion (CPD) and its Connection to Birth Injury

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Cephalopelvic Disproportion, CPD, refers to a mismatch between the size of the baby and the mother’s pelvis. While seemingly simple, this condition can lead to dangerous complications, including prolonged and overly exhausting labor, fetal distress, and serious birth injuries if the newborn cannot effectively travel through the birth canal. Whether the mother has an abnormality in the size or scope of her pelvis, the baby is affected by fetal macrosomia having grown too large for typical delivery, or the birth presentation and position prompts Cephalopelvic Disproportion, it is incumbent upon doctors and medical professionals to identify this situation and manage the risks. When birth professionals make missteps in diagnosing or treating CPD, families may suffer tremendous loss. Mistakes from inattention and negligence can lead to lifelong costs, severe birth injuries, even death for the baby.

If your doctor was at fault for your or your baby’s injuries due to negligence with Cephalopelvic Disproportion, you may be entitled to receive compensation for necessary care and treatment, pain and suffering, and more. The New Jersey medical malpractice attorneys at Fronzuto Law Group can evaluate your case to determine if and how negligence may have occurred. Our legal team can guide you through the process of filing a lawsuit to recover damages for your current, past and future medical and economic losses, along with the long-term therapies and treatment you or your baby may need. We understand the trauma that occurs when you and your child have been the victim of medical negligence in the handling of your delivery. It is our dedication and extensive experience that we offer our clients, and our passion to achieve the financial resources that allow your child to grow and lead as complete and fulfilled a life as possible. Contact 973-435-4551 to discuss your case and potential options. We offer free consultation and are happy to answer all of your questions.

What Causes Cephalopelvic Disproportion?

Cephalopelvic Disproportion often occurs when the mother’s pelvis is narrow, shallow, abnormal, or spiked with bony protrusions. It may also happen with the condition spondylolisthesis, which occurs when a spinal bone slips down in or near the pelvic and tailbone region. The baby may also be the primary reason for CPD. Babies may grow too large for many reasons (a condition called fetal macrosomia), including when their mothers have gestational diabetes, or when the baby’s head fills with fluid, known as hydrocephalus. Post-term babies tend to be bigger also. Sometimes the baby’s position causes difficulty traveling down the birth canal as well. Whether the disproportion is due to the mother, baby, or both, the results of Cephalopelvic Disproportion for the baby and mother during delivery can be disastrous if the condition is mismanaged or unidentified.

What Raises the Risk for Cephalopelvic Disproportion?

An obstetrician meeting with a pregnant woman will have many questions. When they review the woman’s history of pregnancy, illness, injury, and lifestyle, along with their vitals, such as blood pressure, temperature, and heart rate, they may make certain assumptions. For example, they may look at a woman’s blood pressure and history of preeclampsia in prior pregnancies to note in the chart. In that way, the doctor and staff may be on alert for any developing symptoms of the condition or begin proactive treatment, depending on the pregnancy length. Other factors that may trigger alerts are weight, stature, health, and age. Obstetricians can make predictions about the potential pregnancy complications based on these and other factors.

For example, a short woman over 35 (advanced maternal age), who is obese, diabetic, and pregnant with her second or third child, may raise concerns for the obstetrician, especially if she has a narrow pelvis and a history of pelvic problems. A physician with this type of patient may want to keep careful measurements of the growing fetus to ensure that the mother can safely birth the child. And yet, not every expecting mother has a multitude of risk factors for CPD. One thing is certain, however. If the baby’s head or overall body grows too large for the mother’s pelvis, the newborn’s health may be endangered at birth. While it is not customary to deliver babies by cesarean section, cephalopelvic disproportion (CPD) may require a physician to surgically remove the baby to prevent injury to the mother and child. C-sections can be incredibly important, even life-saving, depending on the circumstances.

Can Cephalopelvic Disproportion be Diagnosed before Labor?

Since both can suffer severe injury, an obstetrician or other birth professional must first try to diagnose the condition before the onset of labor. Using a combination of scans and modalities in the last trimester, a physician can attempt to measure the mother’s pelvis and the baby’s size and position in the uterus and eventually the birth canal. Through manual examination or a pelvimeter, a doctor measures the pelvis. With scanning technology such as MRI, X-ray, CT, and ultrasound, a doctor likewise measures the pelvis and the baby’s size and position. By monthly or periodic assessments, doctors can prepare for possible birth complications from Cephalopelvic Disproportion or at least be on high alert for signs of the condition. Even if the provider cannot diagnose CPD in advance, since a woman’s pelvic bones widen and separate during birth, a competent professional must consider the possibility when labor does not progress, knowing a mother’s history and symptoms.

Birth Complications from Cephalopelvic Disproportion

One birth complication occurs when a fetus’s head or body is too large, causing prolonged or stalled labor. In a standard range of 12 to 18 hours of labor, a fetus moves from the uterus into the birth canal. If in that time, the fetus has not moved from its position high in the birth canal, an obstetrician may allow a vaginal birth to continue and see what happens, closely monitoring mother and baby. However, if either mother or baby shows health-threatening signs of distress, the overseeing doctor must be prepared to immediately deliver the baby by cesarean section (C-section). Preparation and awareness are critical, as delayed C-section can cause catastrophic complications. A medical provider who is aware and watchful throughout the pregnancy can better decide what to do, based on the cumulative knowledge from the first visit through the delivery of the baby. For this reason, proper prenatal care is also essential.

When Cephalopelvic Disproportion exists, attempts to strengthen contractions with Pitocin to enable labor progress can lead to oxygen deprivation for the child. Strong, sustained contractions or umbilical cord compression can lead to hypoxia and resulting cognitive disability in the newborn. In addition, attempting to extract a baby that is stuck, whether it be with forceps, a vacuum extractor, or excessive use of force, may lead to permanent damage to the child. This may manifest in damaged nerves, such as brachial plexus injury, compression to the skull, or another severe form of birth trauma. A baby may experience brain damage, complications from shoulder dystocia, Erb’s Palsy, brain hemorrhage, cerebral palsy, or fractured bones.

Cephalopelvic Disproportion and Medical Negligence

Obstetricians and other birth practitioners must dutifully follow standard practices to predict, prevent, and treat common and rare birth complications such as Cephalopelvic Disproportion. They owe their patients the duty of vigilance, education, and competency. Unfortunately, a newborn may spend their first weeks or months in a neonatal intensive care unit instead of in their mother’s arms. They may need to heal damaged nerves in their neck, shoulders, and arms, if possible. They may suffer cognitive damage that can never be recovered from. And when a physician inexpertly attempts to extract a baby too big to exit the birth canal, fails to order a C-section, or fails to recognize CPD early enough to avoid such damage, a baby can die.

A well-timed C-section can serve as the best prevention for birth injuries or death related to Cephalopelvic Disproportion. Thus, waiting too long to perform a c-section may constitute medical malpractice. This is just one of the many ways in which medical negligence may occur with CPD. If your doctor caused you or your infant harm due to delayed diagnosis of Cephalopelvic Disproportion, negligent monitoring of your baby’s vital signs, inaction when the need for an immediate cesarean arose, or another form of malpractice, it is important to speak with a medical malpractice lawyer regarding your potential claim. With knowledgeable legal advice, you can decide whether to pursue legal action, find out what the process of a lawsuit might entail, and learn the many things for which you may recover compensation if your case is successful.

Talk to a New Jersey Cephalopelvic Disproportion Malpractice Attorney

You and your family deserve compensation for your medical and economic losses, as well as for your suffering. A medical malpractice claim is intended to make you whole, to the extent that is possible. It also advances accountability on the part of those liable for your avoidable injuries. At Fronzuto Law Group, you can place your trust in the decades of experience and concentration on birth injury law that we use to successfully advocate for our clients. If a highly beneficial settlement cannot be reached with the negligent parties responsible for the harm caused to you or your child, the medical malpractice and birth injury attorneys at Fronzuto Law Group will diligently prepare your case for trial, and advise you in your decision-making throughout the legal process. Contact our New Jersey office at 973-435-4551 or reach out online for assistance with your Cephalopelvic Disproportion injury case.

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