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Study shows earlier induction might benefit large babies

Shoulder dystocia is a birth injury that we have covered on the blog. If you recall, it occurs when a baby's shoulders are too wide to fit through the mother's birth canal. When the shoulders get stuck, the baby is at risk of death or serious injury. Shoulder dystocia is usually associated with larger babies.

A recent study done in Europe suggests that doctors might have to reconsider the acceptable norm of only inducing women once she reaches the 39th week of pregnancy. Instead, the study suggests that inducing a woman who has an unusually large baby at 37 to 38 weeks into the pregnancy might be a safer alternative.

The study looked at more than 800 cases of babies who were in the 95th percentile for weight. Roughly half of those women had a labor induction. The rest were allowed to go into labor naturally or had to be induced for other medical reasons. The difference between the two groups was 4 percent. The women chosen for induction had a baby with shoulder dystocia or fractures, or there was a delayed delivery of the body after the emergence of the head in 2 percent of the cases. The other group's rate was 6 percent.

Typically, doctors wait until 39 weeks to induce a woman because of the risk of complications for the baby. These complications, such as breathing difficulties, can be very serious. With that in mind, doctors must be very careful when they weigh the risks of induction and allowing the pregnancy to continue. Parents who feel their baby was placed at an unnecessary risk should learn about their options as they pertain to their particular case.

Source: Fox News, "For largest babies, inducing labor may help prevent injury during birth," accessed May. 28, 2015

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