Cephalopelvic Disproportion (CPD)

Daisy Rogozinsky
September 8, 2022

Cephalopelvic disproportion, also called CPD, is a condition that often requires the use of cesarean delivery. In this article, we’ll define the term “cephalopelvic disproportion” and explain how it relates to birth injury law. 

Key Takeaways

  • Cephalopelvic disproportion is a condition in which a baby’s head is too large to fit through the birthing parent’s pelvis
  • The safest type of delivery after diagnosis of cephalopelvic disproportion is a cesarean section
  • Cephalopelvic disproportion can be caused by the baby being too large, the birthing parent having a small or abnormally shaped pelvis, or the baby being in an abnormal position 
  • Complications of cephalopelvic disproportion include increased risk of cesarean section, shoulder dystocia, and postpartum bleeding
  • If a healthcare professional fails to properly diagnose and respond to cephalopelvic disproportion, it may be considered medical malpractice 

What Is Cephalopelvic Disproportion (CPD)?

Cephalopelvic disproportion (CPD) is when a baby’s head is too large to fit through the birthing parent’s pelvis. It occurs in 1 out of every 250 pregnancies.

Cephalopelvic disproportion can happen in multiple scenarios, including:

  • If the baby’s head is too big
  • If the birthing parent’s pelvis is too small
  • If the baby is in the wrong position
  • If the relationship between the baby and the pelvis is incorrect unrelated to the size of the baby or pelvis

Cephalopelvic disproportion is rare, but is a common diagnosis in situations such as:

  • The birthing parent’s labor failing to progress
  • The cervix no longer dilating
  • The baby not descending through the pelvis

Once an accurate diagnosis of cephalopelvic disproportion is made, the safest type of delivery for both the baby and the birthing parent is a cesarean section. About one-third of cesarean sections are the result of cephalopelvic disproportion.

Causes of Cephalopelvic Disproportion

One of the main causes of cephalopelvic disproportion is when the baby is too large, which can occur due to any of the following reasons:

  • Hereditary factors
  • The birthing parent still being pregnant after the due date has passed
  • It not being the birthing parent’s first pregnancy
  • Gestational diabetes

Other potential causes of cephalopelvic disproportion include:

  • The birthing parent having an abnormally shaped pelvis
  • The birthing parent having a small pelvis
  • The fetus being in an abnormal position

Complications of Cephalopelvic Disproportion

Possible complications of cephalopelvic disproportion include:

  • An increased risk of cesarean section
  • Shoulder dystocia
  • Postpartum bleeding

Most women with cephalopelvic disproportion have successful pregnancy outcomes after cesarean delivery which no evidence suggesting that it negatively affects a baby after birth. 

Cephalopelvic Disproportion (CPD) and Birth Injury Law

It is the duty of the medical team to properly diagnose cephalopelvic disproportion and respond appropriately, usually by proceeding to cesarean delivery. In situations of true cephalopelvic disproportion, the baby has little chance of being able to be born vaginally, and trying to force a vaginal birth by using forceps or vacuum extractors may cause serious injuries. 

If your baby experienced a birth injury because a healthcare professional failed to properly diagnose or respond to your cephalopelvic disproportion, you may be eligible for compensation. It is recommended that you speak to an experienced birth injury attorney who will be able to help you understand how to move forward with your legal case.

Featured Birth Injury Lawyers

Timothy J. King, Attorney at Law

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Truskett Law

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The Law Office of Michael R. Green PLLC

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