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Should Big Babies be Delivered Early?
It is well known that serious complications can be caused by delivery of bigger babies but at present, the medical evidence is unclear on whether earlier delivery will reduce the risk.
To try and answer this question a clinical trial led by a partnership between the University of Warwick, University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust and the Perinatal Institute has been launched this week.
To conduct the study the research team will be studying the outcome of 4,000 pregnancies across 60 maternity units in England where the baby is suspected to be larger than expected and therefore potentially there is a greater risk of complications during the birth.
Mothers who consent to being part of the trial will be allocated at random into either an early induction of labour group (where the aim will be to deliver at around 38 weeks) or a control group where the mother is allowed to await the onset of labour naturally. Researchers will then look at whether with earlier delivery there was a reduction in the number of complications.
Simon Mansfield, Associate Solicitor in Tozers Clinical Negligence Team comments:
“This promises to be a really interesting study and I look forward to being able to see the results. As the research team have highlighted one of the problems associated with having a bigger baby is an increased risk that the shoulders will get stuck, after delivery of the head. This is a serious obstetric emergency which, if not managed appropriately, can lead to serious and permanent harm to the nerves within the baby’s neck, known as an Erb’s Palsy injury. It some cases the delay in delivery can also lead to brain damage.
At Tozers we have worked closely with the Erb’s Palsy Group for many years and know all too well the impact such injuries can have on children and their families. Therefore, whilst there is accruing evidence that indicates that with proper management when the shoulders get stuck, permanent harm can be avoided, any research that may help reduce the incidence of this complication and help mothers make informed decisions about delivery of their child should be welcomed.”