Association of Fetal Abdominal-Head Circumference Size Difference With Shoulder Dystocia: A Multicenter Study


Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Aurora Sinai Medical Center


Objective: This study aims to determine if shoulder dystocia is associated with a difference in the fetal abdominal (AC) to head circumference (HC) of 50 mm or more noted on antenatal ultrasound.

Study Design: A multicenter matched case–control study was performed comparing women who had shoulder dystocia to controls who did not. Women with vaginal births of live born nonanomalous singletons ≥ 36 weeks of gestation with an antenatal ultrasound within 4 weeks of delivery were included. Controls were matched for gestational age, route of delivery, and diabetes status.

Results: We identified 181 matched pairs. Only 5% of the fetuses had an AC to HC of ≥ 50 mm. The proportion of AC to HC difference of ≥ 50 mm was significantly higher in shoulder dystocia cases (8%) than controls (1%, p = 0.002). With multivariate regression, the three significant factors associated with shoulder dystocia were AC to HC ≥ 50 mm (odds ratio [OR], 7.3; confidence interval [CI], 1.6–33.3; p = 0.010), femur length (OR, 1.1; CI, 1.0–1.2; p = 0.002), and induced labor (OR, 1.8; CI, 1.1–3.1; p = 0.027).

Conclusion: A prenatal ultrasound finding of a difference in AC to HC of ≥ 50 mm while uncommon is associated with shoulder dystocia.

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