When you were having a baby, were you told you needed to be induced, or have your labor aided by drugs? With modern medicine, having a baby has seemingly become easier and more advanced.While survival rates have increased in decades past, so have the rate ofbirth injuries and the rate of Pitocin use during labor.

Pitocin is a drug used all over the U.S., including Virginia and DC hospitals.  It is most often given through an IV infusion.  While it was created in 1953 (and approved for use in 1955), it was not widely used for over 30 years.  Now, it is said that nearly 81 percent of women in U.S. hospitals receive Pitocin to induce or augment their labors.  It was also noted that only 3 percent of those women actually needed it. 

Medical professionals claim that it is just synthetic oxytocin, a hormone a woman’s body produces on her own to signal contractions.  Unfortunately a mother’s body responds differently to the synthetic form.  Here are a few side effects that have been reported in mothers:

  • Anaphylactic reaction
  • Postpartum hemorrhaging
  • Arrhythmia
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Hematomas
  • Rupture of the uterus

While risks to the mothers are frightening on their own, there are a number of complications that involve the unborn child. 

  • Bradycardia
  • Arrhythmias
  • Brain damage
  • Neonatal seizures
  • Neonatal jaundice
  • Neonatal retinal hemorrhage
  • Fetal death

In addition, a mother given Pitocin has a higher rate of c-section and birth injury.  Mothers given Pitocin are also more likely to have an epidural; another factor that leads to an increase in birth injury.  With induced labors, it’s common for the doctors to assist in extracting the baby, leading to any one of these common birth injuries:

  • Bruising or marks from forceps or a vacuum
  • Brain damage
  • Bone fractures (clavicle and femur)
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Erb’s palsy
  • Facial paralysis

Even with medical advancement, we are a long way from removing preventable mishaps.  Induced labors tend to result in more issues.  Often physicians fail to perform a timely c-section when complications arise, or use too much force to extract a baby. 

If you believe you had a child injured during birth by a medical professional in Virginia or DC, contact our birth injury attorneys at Shevlin Smith today.  We can help you determine if you are entitled to compensation.  Call us at 703.591.0067 or complete the form at the top of this page for a consultation.  

Michael J. Shevlin
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Specializing in medical malpractice and serious personal injury cases since 1994.
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