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The Dangers of Fetal Macrosomia

According to the World Health Organization, the average birth weight for a full-term female baby is 7 pounds, 2 ounces. Full-term male babies tend to be slightly larger at an average of 7 pounds, 6 ounces at birth. While babies with a low birth weight can suffer serious health problems, a high birth weight can also be dangerous, especially if a clinician doesn’t properly attend to the issue. As an experienced Kansas City, MO birth injury lawyer – including those who practice at Royce Injury Attorneys, LLC – can confirm, high birth weight babies can experience injuries as a result of their size; their size can also result in injuries to their mothers. When fetal development is properly monitored and attended to, high birth weight injuries (to mother and baby) can often be prevented. When these injuries are not prevented, the affected family may have cause to file legal action. 

What Is Fetal Macrosomia?

Fetal macrosomia, also known as “big baby,” is a risky health condition where the fetus grows larger than average while in utero. This condition occurs in 10% of all births. Doctors calculate the baby’s expected birth weight and should diagnose fetal macrosomia when the baby is estimated to become 9 pounds, 15 ounces or larger. Some doctors will give a macrosomia diagnosis when the baby’s estimated birth weight is 8 pounds, 13 ounces or more. 

What Are Risks to the Mother?

Potential complications of fetal macrosomia for the mother may include the following:

  • Vaginal Tearing: A bigger baby comes with an increased chance of vaginal and perineal tearing, which may require surgery. 
  • Uterine Rupture: Women who have had C-sections or uterine surgery are more at risk of suffering a uterine rupture. Essentially, the scar line from a previous uterine operation can split during labor, which will require emergency surgery to save the mother and remove the baby. 
  • Blood Loss: Fetal macrosomia increases the mother’s risk of severe bleeding during and after delivery.

What Are Risks to the Baby?

While most babies born with macrosomia are healthy, they may experience the following injuries: 

  • Shoulder Dystocia: The child’s wide shoulders may become lodged behind the birth canal. This serious complication can cause the baby nerve damage or lead to a broken arm or collarbone. 
  • Forceps Injuries: Forceps should never be used when the baby is very large; however, some doctors will still do so, which may lead to Erb’s palsy, facial nerve injuries and permanent brain damage. 
  • Metabolic Syndrome: Children born with macrosomia are at a higher risk of developing a group of conditions that increase blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol and body fat. 

Can a Medical Malpractice Suit Be Filed Due to Fetal Macrosomia?

Medical malpractice never causes fetal macrosomia, but doctors may fail to properly diagnose, treat and monitor pregnant women with fetal macrosomia, which can lead to severe and even life-threatening complications, as well as high medical bills. 

Women who have had a child with macrosomia and believe that they may have been victims of medical negligence during pregnancy, labor, or delivery should turn to a birth injury lawyer for assistance. A medical malpractice lawyer can help file a claim to recover damages for medical bills, pain and suffering, and impaired quality of life. 

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