Practice Areas > Birth Injury > Shoulder Dystocia > Risk Factors  

Risk factors for Shoulder Dystocia and Brachial Plexus injuries?

  • Gestational Diabetes
    Maternal obesity
    Excessive weight gain during pregnancy
    Macrosomia (a baby weighing more than 4000 grams or approximately 9 lbs.)
    Previous large baby
    Previous shoulder dystocia
    Post term pregnancy
    Protracted/prolonged labor
    Short stature/small pelvis
    Forceps/Vacuum assisted vaginal delivery

Maternal risk factors for shoulder dystocia can often be identified during a woman's pregnancy.

Short maternal stature, gestational diabetes, abnormal pelvic anatomy, and a history of birth complications are all maternal risk factors that can increase the risk of should dystocia during delivery.

Post-date delivery can also increase the risk of shoulder dystocia. A baby weighing more than 8.13 ounces at birth has a greater risk of suffering shoulder dystocia during birth than a child weighing less.

These maternal factors can be identified by a medical professional prior to delivery. Prompt attention to these conditions or proper handling of the birth process given these risks can greatly reduce the risk of shoulder dystocia.

There are also events that can occur during the child birth process that can greatly increase the risk of shoulder dystocia. Improper or forceful forceps or vacuum delivery is one of the leading causes of shoulder dystocia during child birth. In some cases the procedure is unnecessary; in others it is performed improperly.

When a shoulder dystocia occurs during the delivery, there are medical techniques to manage the labor.

Shoulder dystocia can lead to maternal and newborn injuries. A baby who has suffered shoulder dystocia may suffer temporary or long term nerve damage that affects the upper extremities (brachial plexus palsy), fractures, anoxia, and more.


When a child has suffered an injury related to prenatal care, labor or delivery, it is understandable for the parents to have questions about the injury, their legal rights and the legal rights of the child.  We welcome the opportunity to talk with you about what has happened to your child and about your legal rights.  Consultations are free – there is no obligation to call and talk with one of our attorneys.  Contact Us if we can help you.

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Williams & Brown L.L.P.

Bridgeview Center
2nd Floor
7901 Fish Pond Road
Waco, Texas 76710
Telephone: 254.741.6200
Fax: 254.741.6300
Toll Free: 1.888.741.6200