Attorney at Law


Daisy Rogozinsky
October 30, 2022

Fetal macrosomia is a condition that can lead to complications for both the birthing parent and the baby. In this article, we’ll define the term “fetal macrosomia” and explain how it relates to birth injury law.

Key Takeaways

  • Fetal macrosomia is a condition describing a newborn much larger than average
  • Symptoms of fetal macrosomia include polyhydramnios and large fundal height
  • Risk factors for fetal macrosomia include diabetes, obesity, age, and more
  • Complications of fetal macrosomia for the birthing parent include uterine rupture, bleeding, genital tract lacerations, and more
  • Complications of fetal macrosomia for the baby include obesity, metabolic syndrome, and low blood sugar
  • If a doctor’s failure to properly detect or respond to fetal macrosomia leads to birth injury, it may be considered medical malpractice

What Is Fetal Macrosomia?

The term “fetal macrosomia” describes a newborn baby much larger than average. This means weighing more than 4,000 grams or 8 pounds 13 ounces, regardless of gestational age. This applies to about nine percent of babies worldwide. 

Fetal macrosomia can lead to complications including birth injury and difficult vaginal delivery.

When birth weight is above 4,500 grams or 2 pounds 15 ounces, risks associated with fetal macrosomia increase greatly. 

Causes of Fetal Macrosomia

It is not always clear why a fetus may be larger than average. Possible reasons include:

  • Diabetes in the pregnant parent
  • Obesity in the pregnant parent
  • A medical condition in the fetus

Symptoms of Fetal Macrosomia

Fetal macrosomia can be difficult to detect during pregnancy. The signs and symptoms of fetal macrosomia include:

  • Polyhydramnios - When there is too much amniotic fluid surrounding the fetus in the amniotic sac, it can be a sign that it is larger than average
  • Large fundal height - A larger than expected fundal height can be a sign of fetal macrosomia

Risk Factors of Fetal Macrosomia

Factors that may increase the risk of fetal macrosomia include:

  • Previous pregnancies - The risk of fetal macrosomia increases with each pregnancy, with the average birth weight typically increasing by 4 ounces for each successive pregnancy up until the fifth
  • Having a male - Male infants typically weigh more than female infants, with most babies weighing over 4,500 grams being male
  • Diabetes - With uncontrolled diabetes, the baby is likely to have larger shoulders and more body fat
  • A history of fetal macrosomia - If a pregnant person has previously given birth to a large baby, they are more likely to have another large baby
  • Birth weight - Birthing parents who weighed more than 8 pounds 13 ounces at birth are more likely to have a large baby
  • Age - Pregnant people older than 35 are more likely to have a baby with fetal macrosomia
  • Excessive weight gain during pregnancy
  • Obesity
  • Overdue pregnancy - Pregnancies that continue more than two weeks past the due date carry an increased risk of fetal macrosomia

Complications of Fetal Macrosomia

Possible complications of fetal macrosomia to the birthing parent include:

  • Labor problems - Fetal macrosomia increases the risk of shoulder dystocia, birth injury, cesarean section, and assisted delivery
  • Genital tract lacerations - Fetal macrosomia may cause tearing of the vagina or perineum during childbirth
  • Bleeding after delivery - Fetal macrosomia increases the risk that the uterine muscles will not properly contract after childbirth, leading to serious bleeding
  • Uterine rupture - Fetal macrosomia increases the risk of uterine rupture for parents who have previously had a cesarean section or major uterine surgery

Possible complications of fetal macrosomia to the baby include:

  • Low blood sugar - Babies with fetal macrosomia are more likely to be born with a blood sugar level below normal
  • Metabolic syndrome - Babies with fetal macrosomia are more likely to develop metabolic syndrome during childhood
  • Childhood obesity - The risk of childhood obesity increases with higher birth weight

Fetal Macrosomia and Birth Injury Law

It is the duty of healthcare professionals to properly monitor birthing parents in order to prevent or detect fetal macrosomia as early as possible. If a fetus has fetal macrosomia, doctors must plan accordingly for childbirth, including potentially scheduling a cesarean section. If they fail to do so and it causes injury to the parent or baby, it may be considered medical malpractice.

If you or your baby experienced complications of fetal macrosomia because of a doctor’s negligence, you may be eligible for compensation. It is recommended that you speak to an experienced birth injury attorney to pursue justice.

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