Software Makes Childbirth Safer

BOSTON A strong heartbeat is music to expectant mother Jen Harley's ears, but there are other worries lingering in her mind. Thirty-thousand babies in the United States are born each year with shoulder dystocia. That's one out of every 100 births. It happens when the baby gets stuck in the birth canal. In extreme cases, it causes permanent nerve damage.

"The baby is unable to use its arm or hand for the rest of that child's life," Henry Lerner, M.D., Assistant Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Mass., told Ivanhoe.

Harley is at high risk because her second child had shoulder dystocia and she tends to carry larger babies.

"The thought of something happening to them as I am trying to bring them into the world is certainly scary," Harley told Ivanhoe.

A new software program is bringing peace of mind by calculating the risk of shoulder dystocia with permanent injury.

"It aids tremendously," Dr. Lerner say. "In the past, one of the problems that bedeviled doctors and midwives was that there was no way to predict who would be at risk for shoulder dystocia."

The software uses the mom's height and weight along with other factors to calculate risk. A read-out indicates the probability of the baby getting into trouble during birth. It spots the condition up to 60 percent of the time.

"It is better for the doctor," Dr. Lerner said. "It is better for the patient, and most of all, it's better for the baby."

Armed with this information, Dr. Lerner recommended Harley have a C-section, taking away some of the worry that goes along with being a mom.

Dr. Lerner said originally there was fear the software would lead to more C-sections, but he says that hasn't happened. Besides having larger babies, having diabetes is also a risk factor for shoulder dystocia.

LMS Medical Systems
575 Madison Ave., 10th floor
New York, NY 10022
(410) 349-4634

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