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Is Induced Labor Best for Large Babies?

Over the past few weeks our Chicago birth injury attorneys have discussed the concerns being raised by many about the prevalence of C-section births. Instead of allowing natural vaginal births to progress, many more families have made the decision (often at their doctor’s urging ) to induce labor early. C-sections are often performed. While there are times when surgical births are absolutely essential, when they are not necessary their use can actually pose a greater risk of a birth injury developing. As with most situations, a balanced approach seems to work best.

A recent article from MedPage Today touched on the merits of induced labor. Interestingly, some experts are claiming that the larger the baby the increased need to induce labor. Swiss researchers have conducted some analysis which suggests that children who are larger than normal for their date of birth often face less birth trauma when there is an induced birth as opposed to allowing nature to take its course.

For example, the analysis of birthing trends in certain areas found that fetuses who estimated weight based on sonograms were in the top 5% of children of that age were three times more likely to experience shoulder dystocia when birthed naturally. Shoulder dystocia often results when an infant’s shoulder is caught on the mother’s public bone during birth. When not properly addressed the dystocia can cause a range of issues, including brachial plexus injuries. Brachial plexus injuries are some of the most common harms to befall infants. The brachial plexus is a bundle of nerves at the top of the arm. When torn or otherwise damaged, the injury can result in the child losing the ability to use their shoulder, arm, wrist, hand, and fingers. The Illinois birth injury attorneys at our firm have worked with many families whose children suffered one of these injuries which could have been prevented.

The latest findings regarding the benefit of induced labor in larger infants were reported at the annual meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine. The results mirror the beliefs of many. Previous observational studies had found that labor induction might lower birth weight (in situations where it was already high) and decrease the change of a range of injuries, including shoulder dytocia, brachial plexus injury, and death.

However, previous studies did find that C-section usage was higher in induced births. Considering the potential increases in risks with surgical births, this must factor into each independent determination about the best course for a birth. Also, as the lead researcher noted, “as with all evidence-based medicine, we should take into account the characteristics and preferences of the woman themselves.”

These latest findings are helpful to fill in gaps about the overall risks and merits of each course of action that can be taken by an expecting family. At the end of the day, many of these decisions depend on balancing a wide range of factors. There is never one size that fits all. In each case, however, it is important for families to take an active role in the decision-making process. Mothers should ask every question that comes up and be sure to be aware of the reasons behind each choice that is being made.

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