What is Cephalopelvic Disproportion?

Beyond being a mouthful of a medical term, cephalopelvic disproportion (also known as “CPD”) is a critical circumstance that is extremely important to address. Taking place during labor, CPD occurs at a critical time for both mother and child. When a medical professional fails to take proper action in the face of CPD, or in those instances where things have progressed too far, a child can be significantly injured in ways that include a brain injury resulting in Cerebral Palsy.

But what is cephalopelvic disproportion?

Cephalopelvic disproportion is the term used by the medical community to describe when a child’s head is too large to pass through the birth canal, safely and efficiently. Occurring in roughly 1 in 250 births, CPD carries with it telltale signs that medical professionals must recognize and take action on immediately to avoid injury in the presence of CPD. For images representing what this problem looks like, click here.

Signs of CPD include:

  • Prolonged delivery or labor
  • Large fundal height (measurement between top of uterus and pubic bone)
  • Fetal distress
  • Above average levels of amniotic fluid

The reason cephalopelvic disproportion poses such a threat to a child is due to the damage that can be caused by becoming ‘stuck’ during labor. Problems that can occur directly impacting the child’s health include physical harm (bruising, broken bones, etc.), asphyxia, hemorrhaging, seizure disorders, paralysis, developmental delays and, unfortunately, Cerebral Palsy. Risks to the mother also exist and include injuries to the birth canal (including lacerations), tearing, excessive bleeding and tailbone injuries. Cephalopelvic disproportion can also result in uterine rupture and bleeding post-delivery.

Because of the dangers posed by CPD, it is important that medical professionals take immediate action when cephalopelvic disproportion is suspected. Beyond direct examination of the birth canal, perhaps using special tools like a pelvimeter, can be instrumental in understanding the circumstances surrounding the labor, as is an ultrasound, x-ray or CT pelvimetry.

In the event a woman’s labor reveals signs of cephalopelvic disproportion, doctors should order a C-section to expedite delivery as soon as possible, where possible. Though some instances can prevent a Cesarean from being an option, urgency regarding the delivery and close monitoring of the baby should be at the forefront of all involved in the delivery.

If your child’s delivery was limited by cephalopelvic disproportion (CPD) and has been diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, it is critical to have a team of medical and legal professionals review the circumstances surrounding your delivery. Doing so may reveal errors on behalf of the medical staff that makes your child eligible for a lifetime of therapy, adaptive equipment, assistive technology, medical care, housing, education and more. For more information on CPD and/or the eligibility of a child for Lifetime Benefits, contact us through our online form or by calling (800) 462-5772 today.

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