Pitocin Induced Birth Injuries

Staff Writer | April 30th, 2013

pitocin induced birth injuryPitocin is a synthetic version of the naturally-occurring hormone oxytocin, which is released in pregnant women to cause contractions of the uterus. Intended for use in cases where induced labor is the only safe option available, some people in the medical community have expressed concern about the frequency with which it is used in American hospitals.

Much of the concern centers around Pitocin induced birth injury, which can occur as a result of the increased blood pressure and heart rate caused by the hormone, in both mother and child.

When diluted with saline solution, liquid Pitocin is administered intravenously and pump-regulated to enable delivery staff to mimic the conditions of a normal labor as closely as possible. The drip delivers X amount of Pitocin per hour, depending on instructions from the head physician.

Doctors in charge of delivering Pitocin regularly adjust the levels until a healthy contraction pattern emerges. This pattern may differ from woman to woman, depending on her response and the instincts of the medical staff.

Why are Pitocin induced births performed?

There are three main reasons for a Pitocin induced birth to occur:

  • To induce birth, if a woman has passed 41 weeks of gestation, also known as ‘post-term’
  • To speed up the labor process
  • To control excessive bleeding after childbirth

Many women have experienced Pitocin-assisted labor – also known as augmented labor – without a problem, while others have suffered unwanted side effects.

Pitocin risks

There are various complications and risk factors that contribute to any Pitocin induced birth injury. For the mother, it may increase the likelihood of an emergency cesarean section. Augmented labor using Pitocin is often more painful, causing more women to request pain medications and epidurals. Some research data suggests the likelihood of uterine rupture and fetal distress is greater than with a natural birth. Other Pitocin risks to mothers include lower beta-endorphine levels, postpartum hemorrhage and placental rupture.

For the child, Pitocin risks include:

    • Jaundice
    • Premature birth
    • Hypoxia
    • Asphyxia
    • Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE)
    • Permanent central nervous system damage or brain damage
    • Cerebral palsy
    • Stillbirth

The risks of Pitocin induced birth injury are so great because the nature of the contractions is different compared to a natural delivery. When naturally occuring, oxytocin is secreted by the body in short bursts, but Pitocin is continuously delivered.

The body cannot regulate the intensity of Pitocin, causing contractions described by some women as ‘excruciating’ and ‘agonizing’. Closer together and longer-lasting, Pitocin contractions shorten the period during which a baby can receive oxygen – and increasing the risk of conditions caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain.

In the U.S., it is standard practice to induce labor at 41 weeks in order to avoid the risks associated with overdue pregnancies. However, multiple studies suggest the risk of complications caused by overdue labor is no greater than the risk of induced delivery.

Other studies go further, indicating a greater risk with augmented labor, citing the problems inherent in a cesarean section as evidence.

Pitcoin induced birth injury lawsuits

If you believe your child has been the victim of a Pitocin induced birth injury, and you think medical staff are to blame, you may qualify for a lawsuit. New York medical malpractice lawyers can help you establish liability, and advise you of the benefits and legalities of filing a claim against the healthcare professionals involved in your labor.  Contact The Sanders Firm at 1-800 FAIR PLAY for a free case evaluation.