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Spinal cord injuries during childbirth

New York couples who are expecting the birth of a child may be interested in learning about one serious type of birth injury that can result in serious complications for a newborn infant. Depending on the actions of the medical staff during abnormal deliveries, these injuries may be preventable.

While there are many types of injuries that can occur during the delivery process, one of the more serious types is one to the spinal cord. The two major causes for spinal cord injury during birth are rotation and traction. In situations where there is a vertex delivery, rotation of the child is more common. When there is a breech birth, excessive traction is more likely, though this type of injury is much less common. Each type injures a different part of the spinal cord. These injuries result in a variety of damage to the child, including hemorrhages, torn dura and fractures or dislocations of the vertebrae.

A spinal cord injury can cause stillbirth or death soon after delivery, due to damage to the child's respiratory function. In some cases, however, it can be difficult to pinpoint the cause of the injury when a mechanical respirator is used. If the child does survive, there may be other issues that can be mistaken for cerebral palsy. Prevention of these injuries requires proper management of a breech or instrumental delivery process.

In cases where a child is harmed due to negligence during the delivery process, a medical malpractice attorney can examine the evidence of what occurred in the delivery room in order to determine if legal action should be maintained against the medical staff or hospital. This may result in an award of compensation, including long-term care and medical expenses related to the birth injury.

Source: Medscape, "Birth Trauma", Nirupama Laroia, Feb. 2, 2015

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