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What is Cephalopelvic Disproportion (CPD)?

What is Cephalopelvic Disproportion (CPD)?

Birth Injuries Related to Cephalopelvic Disproportion

undefinedAccording to the American Pregnancy Association, Cephalopelvic Disproportion (CPD) “occurs when a baby’s head or body is too large to fit through the mother’s pelvis.”  This condition may be caused by a number of factors including:

  • Diabetes
  • Small or narrow pelvis
  • Malposition of the fetal head
  • Maternal Obesity
  • Advanced Maternal Age
  • Infertility Treatments
  • Multiparity
  • Post-term Pregnancy

CPD can cause prolonged and difficult labor which increases the risk to the mother and child.  Failure to diagnose CPD can result in a severe birth injury to the child.  Generally, an obstetrician will recommend delivery by cesarean if signs of CPD arise such as fetal distress and large fundal height. 

Failure to accurately diagnose cephalopelvic disproportion can result in liability for the hospital and doctor.  Birth injuries caused by medical malpractice simply should not happen.  Doctors are required to monitor both the fetus and mother for signs of distress and must be equipped to make quick decisions during emergencies.  A failure to act timely can have lifelong consequences for the child. 

Birth injuries associated with CPD include brain damage caused by a lack of oxygen, cerebral palsy, or even death.  Because cephalopelvic disproportion can cause prolonged labor, many mothers are given too much Pitocin to speed the natural effects of labor.  Too much Pitocin can be detrimental to both the child and the mother during labor.  If a child becomes stuck because of CPD and the treating obstetrician fails to recognize the condition, they may attempt to force labor.  Removing a fetus by force can lead to birth trauma injuries including Erb's palsy.

Failure to Diagnose CPD

While it may be challenging to diagnose CPD before labor, there are warning signs.  A mother with gestational diabetes should be monitored closely throughout her pregnancy.  A baby that has gone past 40 weeks should also be monitored closely since post-term pregnancies are at higher risk for producing large babies.  During labor, if fetal monitors should be watched closely for signs of distress such as a low fetal heartbeat.  Red flags should also be raised if the labor fails to progress placing stress on both the mother and child.  Any abnormalities presented during labor and delivery must be dealt with immediately to avoid trauma to the unborn child.  A delay in ordering an emergency C-section could mean the difference between life and death for mother or child.