Is Fetal Weight a Predictor of Birth Injury?

by David Zevan on Apr. 01, 2015

Employment Workers' Compensation Accident & Injury Accident & Injury  Personal Injury 

Summary: Studies have shown that in the United States 7 out of 1,000 children born suffer from some form of birth injury.

Studies have shown that in the United States 7 out of 1,000 children born suffer from some form of birth injury.

Birth injuries may result from complications during pregnancy, illness, or negligence of the obstetrician and assistants during labor and delivery. Most birth injuries are unpredictable; however, one factor which has been the most common is birth weight.

How the Mother's Weight May Affect The Baby's Birth Weight

The birth weight of a child may be influenced by the mother’s weight. Babies born to mothers who are obese or those with a BMI of 40 and above are more likely to sustain a birth injury. This is caused by a lack of proper nutrition to the fetus as obese mothers may not get proper nutrition and vitamins required for a strong and healthy baby. Obese mothers are also more likely to have induced labor and the need for the use of forceps or vacuum extraction which increases the risk of birth injuries.

Complications Causing Birth Injuries

Complications during pregnancy, such as hypertension and fetal distress, generally result in a higher incidence of cesarean section birth in obese mothers. Increase in BMI by one unit increases the chances of cesarean section by 7 percent. Maternal obesity is also linked to congenital abnormalities and a higher infant mortality rate. Studies have shown that for obese mothers, 37.5 percent of babies born suffer from some congenital defect and the risk of infant mortality is 2.5 times higher than babies born to healthy weight mothers.

The location of fat deposits on the mother also influences the size of the fetus. Mothers who have put on excessive weight around the abdomen have a higher chance of delivering large-for-gestational-age infants. These babies have higher weight, height, and head circumference and thus are more prone to birth injuries like shoulder dystocia, which is a leading cause of Erb’s palsy.

Infants Susceptible to Birth Injuries

Heavier infants are not born to obese women only; healthy weight women can also give birth to heavier infants. Research has found that birth injuries increase exponentially with birth weight higher than 8 pounds. An infant with birth weight of 8 pounds or more is 7.7 times more susceptible to birth injuries than an average weight infant. Heavier infants are generally delivered through a cesarean section to reduce the risk of brachial plexus injuries or clavicle fractures.

The weight of the mother can also work in the inverse in contributing towards birth injuries. Extremely lean mothers and those who are small in stature also have complications in pregnancy and face birthing difficulties like obese mothers. Deliveries in small mothers are generally done through cesarean section to avoid birth injuries like shoulder dystocia.

Birth Injuries and Medical Negligence

If you are pregnant, the first and foremost thing to do is receive prenatal care from a doctor who will advice you on the correct diet and nutrition to be followed. The doctor will also help you in monitoring your vitamin intake and any abnormalities during pregnancy. If your doctor acts negligently and fails to manage your condition causing injury to you or to your newborn, consult a Missouri birth injury lawyer to seek compensation.

Zevan and Davidson Law Firm, LLC

(314) 588-7200

Legal Articles Additional Disclaimer is not a law firm and does not offer legal advice. Content posted on is the sole responsibility of the person from whom such content originated and is not reviewed or commented on by The application of law to any set of facts is a highly specialized skill, practiced by lawyers and often dependent on jurisdiction. Content on the site of a legal nature may or may not be accurate for a particular state or jurisdiction and may largely depend on specific circumstances surrounding individual cases, which may or may not be consistent with your circumstances or may no longer be up-to-date to the extent that laws have changed since posting. Legal articles therefore are for review as general research and for use in helping to gauge a lawyer's expertise on a matter. If you are seeking specific legal advice, recommends that you contact a lawyer to review your specific issues. See's full Terms of Use for more information.