How Pitocin Causes Birth Injury
At the end of a pregnancy, the mother’s body will begin producing a hormone named oxytocin. This substance causes the uterine walls to contract and leads to labor and the baby’s delivery. If a woman’s baby is late or her labor is not progressing as quickly as it should, her labor might be induced by the use of a synthetic drug called Pitocin. This medication stimulates the uterine walls to contract and helps to accelerate the labor and delivery process. It is used in many hospital delivery rooms in the U.S. and can be effective when it is used properly. However, Pitocin can also result in fetal distress and overstimulation, increasing the risk of birth injuries. Labor and delivery nurses and obstetricians must carefully monitor mothers and babies during labor and delivery to manage the potential side effects of Pitocin and promptly intervene if something goes wrong. Infant injury law firms like Raynes & Lawn represent families whose babies have suffered birth injuries caused by the improper use of Pitocin.
Pitocin is a synthetic version of oxytocin, the natural hormone your pituitary gland releases to prompt labor and delivery. This hormone stimulates the uterine muscles to contract and begin the process of delivering a baby. During labor, oxytocin continues to prompt the body’s release of prostaglandins, which increase the intensity and frequency of the contractions. To stimulate uterine contractions, Pitocin is administered intravenously where it is quickly absorbed and triggers a similar reaction as oxytocin. Obstetricians use Pitocin when a baby is overdue or to stimulate labor when it is not progressing quickly enough.
Pitocin Risk Factors
If Pitocin is administered improperly, it can cause the following issues:
- Overly strong contractions that can cause early placental separation, tears, or ruptures
- Interference with the oxygen flow to the baby
- Contractions too close together can prevent the baby from receiving enough time to recover and result in brain damage
- Damage to the uterus
Improper management of Pitocin during labor can cause hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), which is a severe brain injury resulting from hypoxia caused by Pitocin during labor. A baby who suffers from HIE might be subsequently diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Many HIE malpractice lawsuits involve a doctor using excessive amounts of Pitocin. Because of its potential dangers, it must be administered with care.
Studies have indicated that using Pitocin during the labor process can increase the risks of birth injuries and related complications in childbirth. These issues can result from hyperstimulation and the response to the dosage. It can be difficult for doctors to determine the appropriate dose of Pitocin because the drug’s effects vary among women. Some mothers who are administered Pitocin have an overly strong response with intense, frequent contractions. In others, the same dose of the drug might have no effect. After a doctor has administered Pitocin, there isn’t a clear way to measure its effect. Women also have a delayed reaction to this drug, and its effects won’t begin for 30 to 45 minutes. Because of this delayed reaction, some doctors might give second doses of Pitocin before the effects of the first dose are assessed.
Pitocin can also cause hyperstimulation, a potentially dangerous side effect. When a woman is given too much Pitocin or a woman has an overly strong reaction to it, the drug can cause the muscles of the uterus to be hyper-stimulated. The resulting contractions can then be too strong, too long, or too frequent, causing stress to the placenta and injuries to the baby.
Labor involves uterine contractions, and contractions can affect the delivery of oxygen and blood to the placenta and the baby. The placenta develops inside the uterus and attaches to its walls. It is an important organ that delivers nutrients and oxygen to the baby until the baby is born and can breathe on its own. Each contraction causes the placenta to be temporarily compressed, restricting the blood flow to the baby until the contraction stops. This is why the baby needs to have enough time to rest in between contractions so that it can receive enough oxygen to prepare for the subsequent contraction.
If the blood flow is disrupted in the fetus, the contractions can make the problem worse. Pitocin-induced hyperstimulation can cause intense, frequent contractions with minimal time for the baby to rest. This can result in oxygen deprivation, which is one of the leading causes of birth injuries resulting in cerebral palsy and other permanent disabilities.
Because of the risks associated with Pitocin, strict guidelines have been developed for how the drug should be used. According to the guidelines, Pitocin should only be administered conservatively at a very low dose. During labor, the labor and delivery staff must carefully monitor the mother and the baby for fetal distress. After the contractions reach a normal pattern, the doctor should not administer any more Pitocin. If labor doesn’t progress as it should after Pitocin has been administered, the guidelines recommend that doctors should perform a Caesarian section instead of administering additional Pitocin.
Birth Injury Pitocin Lawsuits
If a baby suffers severe birth injuries caused by the improper use of Pitocin during labor and delivery, the family might have grounds to file a birth injury lawsuit. Before a lawsuit can be filed, however, a medical expert must first review the medical records to determine whether the doctor’s administration of the Pitocin or monitoring of the baby and mother fell below the expected standard of care and caused the baby’s injuries. At the time a lawsuit is filed, a certification that it was reviewed by a medical expert who can provide an expert opinion that the doctor’s care was negligent and caused the baby’s injuries. A birth injury lawsuit might help families recover compensation to pay for the costs of their children’s care and their other associated losses.
Get Help from Birth Injury Lawyers Near Me
If your baby suffered injuries at birth that you believe might have been caused by Pitocin, you should speak to a Philadelphia birth injury lawyer at Raynes & Lawn. We can review your case and explain the legal options you might have. Call us today for a free case evaluation at 1-800-535-1797.
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