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The occurrence of spinal cord birth injuries

While many expecting parents in Pennsylvania plan and prepare for the birthing process of their baby, many unexpected events and complications could occur during the labor and delivery process. Although many of the unexpected events are related to the natural complications with the birth of a newborn, an infant could suffer serious birth injuries due to the negligence of a physician or other medical professionals aiding in the birthing process.

One birth trauma that could occur due to medical negligence is a spinal cord injury. In most cases, when a spinal cord injury occurs during delivery, this is a result from excessive traction or rotation. Traction is more likely to occur in a breech delivery, which is when a baby's feet are delivered first. The likely site for a spinal cord injury during a breech delivery is in the lower cervical and upper thoracic region.

Torsion is likely more significant in a vertex delivery, which is when a baby is delivered headfirst and is the most common type of natural delivery. The site for a spinal cord injury during a vertex delivery is likely to occur in the mid-cervical region.

When a spinal cord injury occurs during delivery, the infant may survive the trauma. However, the injury is likely to cause the newborn weakness and hypotonia, which is a state of low muscle tone. A neuromuscular disorder might occur, and most infants that survive a spinal cord injury will later develop spasticity, which is frequently mistaken for cerebral palsy. An MRI or a CT could be used to diagnose a spinal cord injury in a newborn because supportive therapy is important for the infant to fully or partially recover from the serious birth injury.

Ensuring that proper and adequate medical steps are taken during the labor and delivery process is the best preventative method against spinal cords injuries suffered during delivery. This means taking appropriate emergency steps such as a C-section or using instruments to guide a problematic delivery such as a breech birth.

If a medical professional failed to take proper steps or was negligent during the birthing process, liability could be placed on the medical professional and even the medical facility the baby was delivered at. Parents should understand that there may be recourses available, such as pursuing a medical malpractice suit, if their newborn suffers an injury or trauma during delivery.

Source: Medscape, "Spinal Cord Injury," accessed June 19, 2016

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