Spinal Cord Birth Injuries

It is estimated that 5% of spinal cord injuries occur in infants, the long term consequences can be traumatic. In the worst of cases, the infant dies or suffers injuries that results in quadriplegia or paralysis of all four limbs.
Complications during the birthing process may lead to spinal cord injuries especially when too much pressure is exerted on the infant’s trunk. Damage to the spinal cord may result from rotational stress placed upon the infant in attempting to extract the fetus from the birth canal.

According to Medscape, “Spinal cord injury incurred during delivery results from excessive traction or rotation. Traction is more important in breech deliveries (the minority of cases), and torsion is more significant in vertex deliveries. The true incidence of spinal cord injuries is difficult to determine. The lower cervical and upper thoracic region for breech delivery and the upper and midcervical region for vertex delivery are the major sites of injury.

Major neuropathologic changes consist of acute lesions, which are hemorrhages, especially epidural lesions, intraspinal lesions, and edema. Hemorrhagic lesions are associated with varying degrees of stretching, laceration, and disruption or total transaction. Occasionally, the dura may be torn, and rarely, vertebral fractures or dislocations may be observed.”

A recent birth injury malpractice case was settled in Ireland for $9.87 million. In this tragic case, the hospital admitted liablity for the child’s injuries. The medical malpractice lawsuit alleged that the hospital failled to have any properly trained and competent medical staff onsite to handle her delivery and of failing to make sure a skilled obstetrician was available.