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What is a laryngeal nerve injury in a newborn?

On Behalf of | Jul 24, 2015 | Birth Injuries

When a woman in Newton has a baby, the last thing she will expect is for the newborn to have some sort of birth injury. Unfortunately, this can happen for a multitude of reasons. Sometimes, it is an unavoidable instance that nothing can be done about. In other cases, however, there might have been a sign that the infant was going to have some sort of problem unless there was medical intervention. Perhaps the medical professionals made a mistake during delivery. One possible issue that a newborn can face is a laryngeal nerve injury.

A baby’s ability to breathe and swallow can be affected by laryngeal nerve injury. The reason for this injury frequently seems to be the head being rotated and flexed laterally when in the intrauterine posture. When the baby is being delivered, this kind of head movement can cause injury to the laryngeal nerve. In an estimated 10 percent of those who have paralysis of the vocal cords suffer from it because of birth trauma.

Evidence of laryngeal nerve injury is a hoarseness when crying or respiratory stridor — otherwise known as wheezing. The cause of this is the laryngeal nerve paralysis. It may influence the ability to swallow if the superior branch is affected. There could be bilateral paralysis if there is trauma to both laryngeal nerves. It can also be caused be an injury to the central nervous system like a hemorrhage or hypoxia. If there is bilateral paralysis, there could be significant respiratory distress or unconsciousness. Examination can discover the issue and determine if it is laryngeal nerve injury.

The paralysis will frequently resolve itself within six weeks. It could take between six and 12 weeks. The treatment will depend on the symptoms. In the event that there is bilateral paralysis, it might be necessary to do a tracheotomy and feed through a tube. While this might be a treatable issue or one that will eventually resolve itself, there will still be medical expenses and the potential for long-term problems.

Parents who have a baby with this problem need to know whether or not a medical error played a part or something could have been done to prevent it. Discussing the matter with a legal professional can help to come to a decision as to whether a birth injury case is a viable option.

Source: Medscape, “Laryngeal Nerve Injury,” accessed on July 20, 2015