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Pitocin Induction and Birth Injury Claims

Oxytocin is a naturally occurring substance in the human body associated with bonding as well as childbirth. Pitocin is a synthetic oxytocin. Much like oxytocin, Pitocin is a uterine stimulant. It causes contractions by changing calcium concentrations in the cells of the uterine muscles. However, the negative side effects of Pitocin may cause significant harm to both mother and fetus, resulting in a Pitocin birth injury. Below, our Chicago birth injury attorneys discuss when Pitocin is used, its black-box warning and its potential side effects.

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When Is Pitocin Used?

Pitocin is typically used to induce or speed up labor. It may be used to:
  • Start contractions
  • Strengthen contractions
  • Decrease time between contractions

Pitocin Black Box Warning

The FDA issued a black-box warning—the FDA’s strongest warning—about the use of Pitocin in 2007. The FDA recommends that Pitocin should only be used when induction of labor is medically indicated or in select cases of stalled labor.

Short and Long-Term Side Effects of Pitocin

The short and long-term side effects of Pitocin can be severe for both mother and baby. Below we outline potential side effects and injuries related to Pitocin induction or other usages.

Potential Side Effects of Pitocin on Mother

Pitocin affects the mother differently than the body’s naturally-produced oxytocin. Pitocin is more likely to cause artificially stronger and more frequent contractions than oxytocin. By administering Pitocin during an induction or augmentation of labor, physicians must be aware that the mother is also producing oxytocin naturally and adjust dosages accordingly.
Pitocin is not a dose-dependent drug. Each individual responds to the amount of Pitocin differently. Some mothers may be hypersensitive to the drug. This makes monitoring of Pitocin administration extremely important.
Overdose or long-term usage of Pitocin over a 24-hour period has been associated with adverse maternal outcomes, including:
  • Tachysystole (excessive uterine contractions)
  • Uterine rupture
  • Postpartum hemorrhage
  • Maternal stroke
  • Water intoxication
  • Maternal death
Pitocin is especially dangerous when used in conjunction with other contraction augmentation agents, such as Cervidil (dinoprostone). Pitocin can also complicate a vaginal birth after a caesarian section, as it increases the rate of uterine rupture.

Potential Side Effects of Pitocin on Baby

Pitocin is also associated with significant fetal injuries, including:
  • Decreased heart rate or heart rate decelerations
  • Decreased fetal blood pressure
  • Increased intracranial pressure
  • Cardiac arrhythmia
  • Brain hemorrhage
  • Brain damage
  • Seizures
  • Infant wrongful death
Prolonged use of Pitocin may cause fetal injury by inducing excessive or lengthy contractions. Excessive contractions may occlude the flow of blood and oxygen to the baby from the placenta. This may lead to asphyxia or HIE-related injuries.
Furthermore, excessive or lengthy contractions may also cause traumatic injury by compression of the baby’s head or impaction of the head on the maternal pelvis. These mechanisms can cause fetal stroke that may lead to permanent brain damage in a child.

Speak to Our Birth Injury Lawyers About a Pitocin Birth Injury

Have you or your baby suffered a serious birth injury due to Pitocin? You may have a viable birth injury claim. The dedicated legal team at Grant & Eisenhofer P.A. compassionately advocates for children and mothers seriously injured at birth due to medical negligence.
Call us at (877) 262-9767 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. We represent families nationwide and have offices in Chicago IL, Baltimore MD, New York NY, and Wilmington DE.