An infant who assumes a position in utero with the head turned and flexed laterally may sustain an injury to the laryngeal nerves. In order to correctly diagnose the condition, a visual examination of the cords needs to be made by using a laryngoscope. From there, a trusted physician can determine whether one or both cords have been affected.
Depending on the extent of nerve damage, the infant will display a variety of symptoms. A croaking cry and respiratory stridor are usually seen when one of the laryngeal nerves is damaged, and if the superior branch of the nerves has been affected, the infant may not be able to swallow. Damage to both nerves causes symptoms such as severe respiratory distress or an inability to breathe. Lack of oxygen to the brain during labor and delivery or cerebral hemorrhage can also result in bilateral nerve injury.
The length of recovery in affected infants is directly related to the extent of the nerve injury that has occurred. According one examination, vocal cord paralysis usually ends after about five weeks, but more severe cases may take up to a year to resolve. Treatment depends on the types of symptoms that the infant displays and includes interventions such as smaller, more frequent feedings, tube feedings and tracheotomy.
Parents of children who’ve suffered laryngeal nerve damage as a result of a birth injury may be able to receive compensation for medical payments and other losses that were incurred. A personal injury lawyer may be able to help people by seeking a settlement with the hospital, physician and other health care staff or by filing a medical malpractice lawsuit.