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The laryngeal nerves control various functions of the larynx, or windpipe, such as breathing and swallowing. Occasionally, the position of an infant's head while in the uterus or during birth can cause an injury to the nerves that may result in vocal cord paralysis. The trauma to the nerve usually occurs when the child's head is turned and bent to one side at delivery and may adversely affect the child's ability to breathe and swallow effectively.

Various symptoms may be exhibited in the infant when different nerves are injured. According to a report, an interruption of the superior branch of the laryngeal nerve may cause the child to experience difficulty swallowing. If one vocal cord is paralyzed, the child may exhibit respiratory stridor and a husky cry. If both vocal cords are affected by nerve injury, both the internal and external nerves have been damaged, and the child may have severe respiratory distress or an inability to breathe on his or her own.

Infants who have paralysis to the vocal cords resulting from laryngeal nerve injury usually recover from their symptoms within four to six weeks, and more severe cases may take up to a year to resolve. The course of treatment depends on the symptoms that the infant displays and includes interventions such as feedings that are more frequent with less volume. Children who have more severe symptoms may need to be gavage fed and have a tracheotomy in place to assist with breathing.

People whose children have experienced a birth injury, such as laryngeal nerve trauma, may be able to seek compensation for their medical bills and other expenses related to the event. A personal injury lawyer may be able to help the family recover their losses by pursuing a settlement or filing a medical malpractice lawsuit.

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