If you were warned that your baby may have suffered injuries in a difficult birth, you may be looking for signs of trauma, such as what it means when a baby arches their back. This act could be something as simple as gas. It could also be a sign of something far more serious, including seizures because of brain trauma or weak muscles in the neck from a condition called Erb’s palsy.
If you suspect a serious health condition for your baby, you will want to contact your doctor immediately. Medical personnel can help the baby recover from some of these conditions more quickly than they can heal on their own.
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Should your baby have suffered some sort of nerve damage during a difficult delivery, it is possible that the baby could develop Erb’s palsy. This palsy is not a common condition, as the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) reports only about one or two babies out of every 1,000 develop Erb’s palsy.
When the baby has nerve damage in the brachial plexus network of nerves near the neck and shoulder, this can result in Erb’s palsy.
Signs of Erb’s Palsy
When a baby with Erb’s palsy arches its back, this may occur because of the weakness in the neck muscles from the nerve damage. The back muscles are stronger, so the baby struggles to move its neck in sync with its back, creating the arching movement.
Most newborns will heal from this condition on their own. However, if the condition lingers for a few months after birth, physical therapy or surgery may be needed to improve the baby’s chances of a full recovery. Occasionally, a baby will not recover from this condition, leaving the arm on the affected side growing more slowly than the other arm.
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Severe Jaundice in Babies
It is relatively common for newborns to have jaundice, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that it appears in about 60% of babies. A noticeable yellowing of the skin marks this condition, as bilirubin builds up in the baby’s bloodstream. Most of the time, the baby’s liver matures to the point it can remove excess bilirubin adequately within several days.
However, some babies do not see an alleviation of jaundice in the normal time frame, and the condition worsens over the first few weeks of life. In a case like this, where bilirubin levels become too high for too long, the baby could develop a type of brain damage called kernicterus.
Kernicterus can result in stiffness for the baby, causing an arching of the back. If your doctor did not properly diagnose your baby’s jaundice, he or she could be liable if brain damage from kernicterus occurs.
Another reason a baby may arch its back is because of a condition called cerebral palsy. This palsy is the most common motor disability found in a baby born in the United States, appearing in about 1 in 345 children, according to the CDC.
This condition affects the baby’s ability to move and control his or her muscles, sometimes resulting in a stiffness that manifests as arching of the back. A baby with cerebral palsy may have difficulty swallowing, and he or she may suffer from seizures.
How CP Occurs
The onset of cerebral palsy may occur because of some sort of head trauma during the birthing process or because of a brain injury suffered in the womb.
Cerebral palsy has no cure, but doctors may use a number of treatments to help children with CP be as self-sufficient as possible. Children with CP could end up needing a walker to move, or they may end up in a wheelchair for life. However, some children have a milder form of cerebral palsy, and they can walk with braces.
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We Take Pride in Protecting Families After a Birth Injury
As a new parent, you may have a feeling of unease when you notice something that is not quite right with your newborn’s behavior, worrying about whether the baby is suffering from a more serious issue. You may be wondering what it means when a baby arches their back.
This behavior in a baby could be a sign of a serious problem with the baby’s health. The baby may need further examination from a doctor to determine the full extent of the condition. Doctors may find that it is likely the baby suffered some sort of trauma during birth, leading to an injury that is manifesting itself as an arched back.
The team at the Birth Injury Lawyers Group is ready to defend the right of your family to seek compensation for the injury that occurred to your baby, including awards that cover medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. For a free review of your case, call us as soon as possible at (800) 222-9529.