Infant Spinal Cord Damage from Medical Negligence
Learn more about your rights if your child was seriously injured
Even a normal pregnancy can encounter unexpected issues at the time of delivery. Obstetricians are sometimes put under pressure to make difficult decisions at the time of birth. If the wrong decision is made or an action is delayed, the baby could faced with unnecessary risk of injury as well. In the midst of these difficult decisions, medical errors can occur, leaving the infant with a devastating spinal cord injury.
Causes of spinal cord injury in infants
According to Medscape, serious spinal cord birth injuries occur in approximately 6 to 8 out of 1000 births. Even higher rates have been recorded for babies of larger than average size.
The following factors can contribute to the occurrence of spinal cord injury in infants:
- Failure to properly diagnose spina bifida, a condition in which the vertebrae do not totally enclose the nerves in the spine. If medical personnel have no knowledge of the condition, they may make contact with the nerves, causing additional damage to the infant.
- Blunt force trauma or any other medical problem impinging on the spine that results in a tear (transection) or bruise (contusion).
How infant spinal cord damage occurs
The spinal cord is shielded by the vertebrae and muscles and ligaments of the spine. This level of protection is sufficient against the stresses of a standard vaginal delivery. However, a traumatic labor and delivery process can impose excessive traction on the spinal axis.
Infant spinal cord injuries stemming from birth injuries can occur for the following reasons:
- Hyperextension of the infant’s head from unnatural birthing positions – referred to as “turtle syndrome.” This is most common during face-first and breach positions.
- Excessive traction on the baby’s trunk
- Excessive stretching of the spinal cord
- Rotational stresses on the spinal axis
- Brachial plexus damage to the spinal cord and nerves
As it concerns these possibilities, it’s important to have an experienced spinal cord birth injury lawyer on your side to help determine if you have a case for medical malpractice.
Symptoms of infant spinal cord injury
The symptoms associated with infant spinal cord injury can vary depending on the specific portion of the spinal cord affected and the extent of the damage. According to Boston Children’s Hospital, approximately 60 to 75 percent of all spinal cord injuries suffered by infants and children occur in the neck region. Injuries that are sustained higher on the spine generally result in a larger area affected. Approximately five to 20 percent of infant spinal cord injuries occur in the lower back segment of the spine. Another 20 percent occur in the upper back or chest area of the spine.
Some common spinal cord injury symptoms experienced by infants include:
- Breathing difficulties
- Inability to move (or paralysis)
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of touch sensation
- Abnormal reflexes
- Intellectual or cognitive disabilities
- Sharp pains due to nerve damage around the spinal cord
- Bladder and bowel control problems (this is not normally noticed until the baby becomes a toddler)
Permanent and repairable infant spinal cord injuries
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that infants can suffer permanent or repairable spinal cord injuries. A permanent spinal cord injury is a complete injury that involves the total loss of motor and sensory function, leaving the chances for recovery quite small. Babies sustaining a complete spinal cord injury and also survive often experience long-term complications such as vulnerability to lung and heart problems and bladder and bowel dysfunction. An incomplete spinal cord injury on the other hand may be repairable – the brain can still send messages to the spinal cord to facilitate the recovery of sensory and motor function.
It is fortunate that most of the spinal cord injuries suffered by babies are mild in nature. Babies with these injuries may be placed in a device that helps the affected area heal, such as a lumbar or orthotic brace. Or, surgery may be required to address the injury. Sometimes steroid treatments as well as rehabilitation are provided to prevent further damage from occurring.
These are many of the injuries our clients’ children have sustained
Fighting for your right to compensation after your infant’s spinal cord injury
The birth injury attorneys at Crandall & Pera Law have extensive experience advocating for families that have become the victims of birth injuries and other types of medical malpractice. We are able to serve you in Ohio and Kentucky, and do not charge you any expenses or fees on personal injury cases until we recover damages for you. To arrange a free, initial consultation about your case, call us today at 877.955.0020 or send us a message through our contact form.