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Did Your Newborn Suffer Cerebral
Palsy or Another Brain Injury Before
or During Labor and Delivery?

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Our Birth Brain Injury Resource Guide

the guide

Get a FREE guide of resources available throughout Ohio to children and families of children who were born with brain injuries.

Our guide can help you build a foundation of knowledge and tools that will help you help your child
now and in the future.

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Ohio Birth Injuries Spinal Cord Injury Causes of Death

Children who receive spinal cord injuries during birth have far more to contend with than the obvious physical issues that accompany these types of injuries. Most of these children will have a lower life expectancy due to secondary illnesses and injuries that are associated with spinal cord injuries. Without appropriate ongoing treatment, death can come quicker than many expect. Children with birth-related spinal cord injuries (SCIs) are prone to certain conditions that can cause premature death. .

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Spinal Cord Primer

The spinal cord (SC) is a bundle of nerves that runs from the brain to the base of your spine. These nerves carry impulses back and forth from all of your organs to your brain and back. If one or more of them are damaged, you may lose feeling and/or function in the areas of the body that the injured nerve serves.

The SC is protected by the spinal column, which is made up of multiple vertebrae. Each vertebra is separated by disks, which hold space for the nerves to exit the spinal cord and travel to the body parts that they control. The spinal column is divided into four sections:

Elk & Elk
  • cervical spine – neck area
  • thoracic spine – upper back area
  • lumbar spine - low back area
  • sacrum – pelvis area

As the nerves travel down, they exit the spine, which means that there are more nerves running through the cervical spine than there are running through the lumbar spine. If a SCI happens at the cervical spine level, it has the potential to affect almost every system in the body.

Birth Related Spinal Cord Injuries

SCIs are more common in births that are more stressful, such as when the infant is in breech or becomes stuck in the birth canal. If the doctors fail to intervene quickly enough to avoid trauma, SCIs can occur. They can also occur even when doctors do recognize the need for intervention, but intervene inappropriately by misusing vacuum suction or forceps. Additionally, if doctors fail to diagnose spina bifida, a minor case may turn into a major spinal injury.

Injuries to the spine can cause paralysis. The higher up on the spine that the injury occurs, the more severe the paralysis. Injuries in the cervical spine can leave a child a quadriplegic, while injuries to the mid to lower spine can cause the child to be a paraplegic. Depending on the location of the injury, additional health problems can result, from minor pressure sore issue to major respiratory issues.

Common Causes of Death in SCI Patients

Children with birth related SCIs are more likely to suffer from secondary issues that can lead to death if not properly addressed. These health issues include:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Blood clots
  • Constipation
  • Incontinence
  • Pneumonia
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Chronic Pain
  • Pressure ulcers

Of all of the above, cardiovascular disease is more likely to claim the life of someone with a SCI than any other issue. Next to cardiovascular disease, pneumonia is a common cause of death, particularly in patients who are on a respirator. Sepsis can also occur in patients who develop infections from urinary tract infections or pressure sores.

SCI patients have far more health issues to contend with than simply being paralyzed. Every system in their bodies has the potential to be affected, so it is critical that the injured person receive adequate care for their lifetime. Since most SCIs occur due to medical malpractice, a birth injury attorney is the best chance that you have to receive compensation to cover the total cost of the injury for the life of the injured person.