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The State of Birth in Afghanistan

Damage Award Highlights Pitocin Danger

The family of a seven-year-old boy in the UK won substantial damages for medical malpractice, in a lawsuit that illustrates the dangers of induced labor.

Seven year old Mohammed Usama Ahmed requires constant care, and will never be able to work. He has severe behavioural and educational difficulties, and is unable to talk.

His family sued the hospital where he was born, saying doctors failed to adequately monitor the fetus during labor. His mother was given Syntocinon, a synthetic form of oxytocin, to induce labor. This article takes for granted how dangerous this practice is to the baby.

The baby’s heartbeat and the uterine contractions need to be monitored whilst the mother receives the Syntocinon, as excessive contractions can cause the foetal heart rate to increase. In Mohammed’s case, too much of the drug was given to his mother causing an abnormal foetal heart rate and coupling of contractions. The combination resulted in hypoxia to the foetal brain.

Despite the acknowledged dangers, this kind of medical intervention is on the rise in the United States. For more, see "Medical Meddling in Birth."