Birth Injuries

What Are Some Of The Risk Factors For Shoulder Dystocia?

Not only does shoulder dystocia pose a risk to the mother, it poses an even greater risk to the child. Due to cord compression, doctors must quickly work to free the baby to prevent a reduced level of blood and oxygen. The following items found below are some of what doctors use to determine if there may be an increased risk of shoulder dystocia [1] complications during delivery:


Increasing Fetal Weight: This is known as fetal macrosomia. Doctors should be aware if the baby is greater than 4000g, or 8.8 lbs


Maternal Body Mass Index: Mothers who are obese come with an increased risk of shoulder dystocia. An increased fetal birth rate can be linked to a mother’s obesity in some cases


Prior Shoulder Dystocia Delivery




Gestational Diabetes: Both forms of diabetes pose an increased risk of shoulder dystocia because both conditions can increase the fetal weight.


Post-Term Pregnancy: A pregnancy greater than 42 weeks.

Doctors have a duty to talk with their patients about the various risks which increase the chances of suffering from shoulder dystocia during delivery. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists suggest [2] that doctors discuss the following items with mothers in determining where a vaginal or C-Section delivery is appropriate:


Estimated Fetal Weight


Gestational Age


Maternal Glucose Intolerance


Severity Of Prior Neonatal Injury

Additionally, doctors must be prepared for a shoulder dystocia case, especially when select risk factors are present. If the doctor is inexperienced with a shoulder dystocia delivery, it is not unfamiliar for the doctor to have a more senior doctor available for assistance.

[1] US National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health Shoulder Dystocia: Prediction and Management

[2] American Family Physician ACOG Releases Practice Pattern on Shoulder Dystocia

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