Developmental Delay - Medical Malpractice Lawyer
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Developmental Delay and Birth Trauma - Overview
Interestingly, in at least 80 percent of children who have developmental delay, including attention deficit disorder and autism, the children have a history of a traumatic birth. Depending on the diagnosis, there is evidence of various aspects of cerebral dysfunction, which basically means that the brain doesn't function as efficiently as it should be.
While the brain is nicely contained within a bony skull, it is designed to accept temporary compression at the time of birth as the head descends the birth canal. It expands fully when the baby immediately cries following the birth. The lower end of the central nervous system is actually in the sacrum, which is the large bone forming the back of the pelvis. The sacrum is also designed to be compressed due to the contracting uterus. This compression is restored when the body moves following the birth. The spinal cord and cauda equina are protected by the vertebral column, which extends from the base of the skull to the pelvis.
There are problems of labor and delivery that can compromise these structural areas, disturbing the nervous system which forms the central nervous system. This interferes with physiological development. The biggest problems that can affect the nervous system:
- Having false labor before real labor begins
- Having premature leakage or rupture of membranes’
- Acceleration or induction of labor by means of medications like Pitocin
- Abnormal presentation of the baby other than face down
- Very long labor greater than 18 hours
- Very short labor less than 3 hours
- Getting an epidural anesthetic
- The use of forceps or vacuum extraction
- Having the cord around the neck more than one time
- Severe slowing of the baby's heartbeat
- Period of time in which contractions have slowed or stopped
- Cesarean section delivery due to lack of progress of labor
The condition of the newborn baby can also provide some evidence as to the health of its nervous system. Signs of difficulty include delay in sucking reflex for 24-48 hours; vomiting or spitting up after feeding; arched back when held on shoulder or side; asymmetrical motion of the arms and legs; spells of inconsolable crying; missing stages in motor development such as not rolling over, not crawling on time, not cruising around on furniture nor walking at approximately a year old.
Any of the above signs in the baby suggest that a part of the CNS has been has been compromised. While some of the symptoms will resolve over time, they resolve over the period of time outside of the normal range and they still indicate central nervous system damage or the possibility thereof.
Children who reach school age and who manifest problems have probably already been subject to a variety of medical interventions. They may also have perceptual dysfunction that that interferes with visual or auditory processing. These are children that are in dire need of structural treatment to restore the musculoskeletal integrity of the entire body.
Some children respond to osteopathic approaches such as gentle, precise and restorative manipulative therapy. Their general level of wellbeing and neurological functioning will improve significantly. They will have a better response to adjuvant therapies such as auditory processing, vision, tutoring and a well-balanced diet.
Structural dysfunction that has resulted from birth trauma will be corrected as early as possible so that their neurological development progresses normally. Then we can avert the academic, developmental, and behavioral problems that develop when a child is left untreated. There needs to be an optimal anatomic and physiological integrity. Therapeutic measures can be used to teach the child how to use the mind and body effectively. Think about employing the uses of an osteopathic physician in any situation where there has been birth trauma.
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The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here