Why Induction of Labor in Post-Term Pregnancy Could Result in Medical Malpractice

Published on August 23rd, 2019

postterm pregnancy induction stillbirth birth injury thurswell law medical malpracticeA woman counts down her pregnancy, hoping to make it to 36 weeks when the risk of health complications is significantly decreased. Then she counts to 40 weeks, which is considered full term, and anxiously awaits baby’s arrival. Carrying a fetus beyond 40 weeks, however, is not welcome. A post-term pregnancy, in fact, increases the risk of stillbirth and neonatal death.

Gathering the Research About Stillbirth in Post-Term Pregnancy

A large review of studies has found that pregnancies lasting for 40 weeks or longer can be fatal for the infant. Babies born beyond full term are also at risk for death within the first month of life.

The current practice in the United States is to induce labor at 41 weeks, though of course every pregnancy is different. Some doctors may choose to wait to see if nature takes its course. Other doctors don’t want to take the chance that the baby could be in danger the longer it remains in the mother’s womb.

A British review combined data from 13 studies of stillbirth and neonatal death involving over 15 million pregnancies, finding that:

  • Stillbirths rose steadily with gestational age, from 0.11 per thousand births at 37 weeks to 3.18 per thousand births at 42 weeks.
  • The risk of neonatal death did not change between 38 and 41 weeks.
  • At 41 weeks or more, the risk of a baby’s death within the first month increased slightly compared with 40 weeks.

Why Pregnancy Induction Can Turn Into a Case of Medical Malpractice

Induction is a controversial medical procedure. Some mothers don’t want it. Some support it. Some doctors don’t recommend it. Others call for it when necessary. The mother’s health, the baby’s health, the difficulty or ease of the pregnancy – so many factors impact whether induction is the best choice to deliver a baby safely into the world.

Induction becomes a matter of discussion when a pregnancy has reached full-term. If a child is not delivered at the right time, there is a chance of problems like meconium aspiration syndrome (when the first stool is passed in the womb, mixes with amniotic fluid, and is ingested by the fetus) and birth asphyxia (a result of the baby being too large to be delivered vaginally and spending too long in the birth canal).

If a doctor misjudges the need for induction, it can lead to birth injuries and even death. It is a doctor’s responsibility to identify and anticipate any possible complications during birth. If labor is induced, there is the potential for uterine rupture, bleeding after delivery, and infection caused by improper or prolonged membrane rupture.

Babies born under stressful circumstances often must spend time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Without careful monitoring, testing, and diagnoses, neonatal infections can develop in what is supposed to be a safe environment.

If you or your baby have suffered health complications because of labor induction, contact the Michigan medical malpractice and birth injury attorneys at Thurswell Law to get the compensation you deserve. Schedule a consultation by calling (248) 354-2222 today. We do not charge any fees until we win.

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