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How Can a Spinal Cord Injury Affect a Newborn?

Mother in a hospital bed, holding her newborn baby.

Understanding the causes, types, symptoms, and consequences of SCI in newborns

Spinal cord injuries during birth can have lifelong consequences for infants, and unfortunately, many of these injuries can be prevented. Unfortunately, healthcare professionals are often responsible for birth injuries, due to medical negligence and errors. In these cases, it is crucial for parents to take action to hold those responsible accountable. The Lancione Law Firm, located near Cleveland, OH, has been fighting for families' rights for over 30 years, with a strong track record of success in complex legal cases.

Attorney John A. Lancione is a renowned Ohio birth injury lawyer with a national reputation for effectively resolving such cases. He has a deep understanding of the legal system and knows how to gather and present evidence to achieve the best possible results. At The Lancione Law Firm, our dedicated legal team is committed to fighting for families affected by birth injuries to help them achieve justice.

Causes of spinal cord injuries in infants

The spinal cord is composed of four sections: cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and sacral. Any damage to these regions can have permanent and irreversible damage. In newborns, spinal cord injuries typically result from the movement of the baby's body during delivery, whether it was twisted, rotated, or pulled.

Complications during delivery can result in the need for doctors to use methods that may result in injuries to the newborn.

Two common techniques are vacuum extraction (ventouse) and the use of forceps.

Vacuum extraction uses a suction cup with a pump to provide traction for pulling the baby's head out while pushing during delivery.

Forceps, which resemble tongs, fit around the baby's head and are used to help move and guide the baby out.

Types of spinal cord injuries

Improper or negligent use of delivery methods can cause stretching of the neck and back nerves, resulting in one of two types of spinal cord injuries: complete or incomplete.

Most spinal cord injuries are incomplete, meaning the damage to the spinal cord is not severe enough to block nerve signals from being sent. Newborns with an incomplete spinal cord injury usually have some sensation and movement and may have the possibility to fully recover.

Complete spinal cord injuries result in 100% loss of all movement and sensation below the affected area of the spine. While medical negligence during delivery can cause these spinal cord injuries, they can also cause skull fractures and cerebral palsy, a permanent group of neurological disorders that affect movement, balance, and coordination.

Signs and symptoms of a newborn spinal cord injury

Newborns with spinal cord injuries may exhibit symptoms almost immediately, but it is also possible for signs to be delayed for a few days after birth. If you suspect that your baby may have suffered a spinal cord injury, it is essential to be aware of the following symptoms:

  • Spasms or seizures
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Loss of muscle function
  • Limbs being too stiff or loose
  • General lack of reflexes
  • The body is floppy when picked up

Severe spinal cord injuries can be life-threatening and require close monitoring of any of the symptoms listed above. To diagnose a spinal cord injury, doctors will examine the baby and conduct imaging tests such as X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs. These tests provide clear visuals of any spinal issues.

Get help from a birth injury attorney

Birth injury cases resulting from medical negligence are incredibly serious, particularly when the well-being of your child is at risk. Unfortunately, these cases can be complex, and healthcare providers often deny responsibility for their actions. This is where a skilled birth injury lawyer can provide invaluable assistance.

At The Lancione Law Firm, we recognize the gravity of these situations and the impact they can have on your child's future. With decades of experience handling birth injury cases, we are committed to holding medical professionals accountable for their negligence to obtain the justice and financial compensation you and your family deserve. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with a member of our legal team and learn more about how we can help you.

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