Pitocin Induced Birth Injury

Pitocin Induced Birth InjuryPitocin is a synthetic version of oxytocin, a naturally occurring hormone in pregnant women that causes the uterus to contract. Pitocin is meant to be used to induce labor only in statistically rare cases where the health or even the life of the mother and/or child are threatened by a prolonged gestation. However, many in the medical community are concerned by the increasing frequency of pitocin use in U.S. hospitals, often in cases where its use is not deemed to be essential to the health of the mother and child. The most common side effect associated with the drug is increased blood pressure and heart rate in both the mother and child, as well as a risk of Pitocin induced birth injury.

Who is liable for a pitocin induced birth injury?

If you believe that your child suffered a birth injury due to Pitocin, you may be able to hold the hospital and its medical staff liable for the harm done to you and your child. An experienced New York birth injury lawyer can investigate the circumstances of the labor and determine if negligent acts were committed by doctors or nurses, or if your child’s birth injury was likely the result of Pitocin being administered to you during labor. A Pitocin induced birth injury such as brain damage at birth or cerebral palsy can require a lifetime of financially draining medical therapies and treatments, in addition to the irreparably diminished quality of life for your child. A New York medical malpractice attorney at The Sanders Firm is available to evaluate you and your child’s case, and advise you about the pros and cons of filing birth injury litigation in New York. Consultations are complementary, and always free of charge.

Why is Pitocin used to induce contractions?

Pitocin is usually administered intravenously (through an “IV”). There are two primary reasons that obstetricians use pitocin:

  1. Induce birth in pregnant women who are “post-term” (at 41 weeks gestation)
  2. Speed up labor, known as “augmentation” or “enhancement”

Pitocin may also be administered to help control excessive bleeding after childbirth. However, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, Pitocin (nor any other drug used during labor, for that matter) has not been clinically proven to be safe for the fetus in utero. Pitocin has been linked to numerous risks for mother and child, including ptiocin induced birth injury.

Pitocin risks for the mother include:

  • Abnormally painful uterine contractions
  • Increased liklihood of complicated labor and delivery
  • need for analgesics and anesthetics
  • Low beta-endorphin levels
  • Postpartum hemorrhage
  • Placental rupture and separation

Pitocin induced birth injury and other risks to the child include:

  • Fetal distress
  • Jaundice
  • Premature birth
  • Hypoxia (low oxygen levels)
  • Asphyxia (oxygen deprivation)
  • Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE)
  • Low apgar scores at 5 minutes
  • Permanent central nervous system or brain damage at birth
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Stillbirth (fetal death)

Though Pitocin induced contractions are meant to mimic the body’s natural contractions, there is actually a significant difference between the two, both in terms of the strength and nature of the contractions. While oxytocin is naturally secreted by the body in bursts during labor, pitcoin is continually delivered into the body via an intravenous pump. Whereas natural contractions build up gradually in intensity, the strength of the “artificial” contractions induced by Pitocin is not regulated by the body. As a result, over 80% of women report more, and sometimes excruciating, pain with Pitocin induced contractions. One mother told childbirth.org, “”The contractions on the pitocin were so intense and so completely different than the normal contractions. They were harsh, sudden and agonizing. I felt like I was utterly out of control and could not stand it.”

Birth injuries linked to Pitocin use

When Pitocin is used during labor, the blood supply (and therefore the oxygen source) to the uterus is substantially lowered. With natural contractions, there is a time interval between contractions allowing for the baby to be fully oxygenated before the next contraction. In Pitocin induced labor, the contractions are closer together and last for a longer time, thus shortening the interval where the baby receives its oxygen supply. Reduced oxygen could have life-long consequences on the baby’s brain, including brain damage at birth, cerebral palsy, or even stillbitrh.

Standard practice in U.S. hospitals is to induce labor at 41 weeks because of a supposedly higher risk of birth complications in “overdue” pregnancies. However, multiple studies have shown that there is actually no evidence of an increased risk for stillbirth or birth injuries in labors that occur after the due date. Some studies actually demonstrate an increased risk linked to induced labors, with the need for cesarean section delivery twice as high for mothers whose labor is induced. The health risks associated with C section deliveries include infection, blood loss, and blood clotting.

The authors of a 2002 study published by the National Institutes of Health concluded that, “The ‘evidence’ on which current practice and popularity of routine—or as we prefer to think of it, ritual induction at 41 weeks—is based is seriously flawed and an abuse of biological norms. Such interference has the potential to do more harm than good.”

A New York birth injury lawyer can help

The New York medical malpractice lawyer team at The Sanders Firm has decades of experience winning successful birth injury settlements and jury awards for the victims of Pitocin induced birth injury. We understand the emotional suffering and financial burdens faced by families that have been victimized by medical malpractice. If your child has been injured in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Staten Island, or Long Island, the attorneys at The Sanders Firm are available to help you seek justice in a court of law, and win the compensation you deserve. Call us today for a free legal evaluation at: 1-800-FAIR PLAY.