Medical Verdicts

What factors caused low IQ?


Undisclosed county (Mich) Circuit Court

A mother who had already delivered 5 infants weighing less than 8 lb each became pregnant again. She had gained more than 150 lb during her pregnancy and weighed 350 lb when she was admitted to the hospital for labor at 38.5 weeks’ gestation. She was seen by a resident who made a progress note that the mother “believed she was going to have a cesarean section.”

The on-call obstetrician reviewed the woman’s medical history and concluded from her previous pregnancies that the mother was going to have a normal-sized infant. Based on the risks of cesarean section in obese patients, the obstetrician attempted vaginal delivery.

An ultrasound was not performed and although the woman claimed to have received prenatal care, the prenatal doctor could not locate her records and denied he was her physician.

When vaginal delivery was not accomplished after 14 hours of labor and 3 hours of pushing, an emergency cesarean section was performed within a half hour. The infant, weighing 11 lb 8 oz, had hypoglycemia and remained in the hospital for 10 days.

The boy, now 19 years old, has an IQ of 50, which his mother claimed was a result of the trauma at birth and the hypoglycemia. The mother claimed that a cesarean section should have been performed sooner. The hospital denied any breach of standard care and argued that the absence of cerebral palsy meant that the retardation was likely genetic.

  • The parties settled for $1 million.
The cases in this column are selected by the editors of OBG Management from Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements & Experts, with permission of the editor, Lewis Laska, of Nashville, Tenn ( While there are instances when the available information is incomplete, these cases represent the types of clinical situations that typically result in litigation.

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