Vacuum Use in Obstetrics: Understanding the Risks and Precautions

birth delivery room

Vacuum Delivery

During your prenatal discussion with your healthcare provider, the subject of vacuum use should be discussed. Vacuums are a useful tool to aid in delivery when the appropriate conditions exist with a skilled and knowledgeable provider performing the delivery.

When vacuum extractors first began to be used in obstetrics, the FDA sent a public health advisory letter to healthcare providers urging them to use caution when using vacuum assisted delivery devices. The FDA had received numerous reports of death and serious injuries to babies with the use of vacuums. This prompted the FDA advisory which warned that vacuum assisted delivery devices may cause serious or fatal complications.

Vacuum manufacturers also sent out warnings and instructions with their products in an attempt to minimize injuries suffered by babies during vacuum deliveries.

These warnings and instructions include:

  • The number of vacuum attempts
  • The number of cup detachments or “pop offs”
  • The skill level of the provider applying the vacuum
  • The position of the fetal head within the birth canal
  • The duration of vacuum attempts

Vacuums are increasingly being used in cesarean sections to aid in the delivery of the baby. This may be due to fetal positioning within the uterus or due to the inability of the healthcare provider to quickly and safely get the baby delivered during the cesarean section. The same warnings apply when the vacuum is placed during a cesarean section as when it is used during an attempted vaginal delivery.

Permanent injuries to babies can occur if vacuums are incorrectly placed or incorrectly used. Such birth injuries can include brain injuries, seizures, developmental delays, bleeding in the brain and skull fractures to name a few.

If your child was injured by the use of a vacuum, contact Law Firm of Michael H. Bereston, Inc. for a free consultation.

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