Alert over birth injury

February 3, 2011 by
Filed under: Spinewave Bulletin 

Herald Sun. Newborns leaving hospital with undiagnosed bone and muscle injuries are a big problem for parents, a paediatric chiropractor says.

RMIT paediatrics lecturer Braden Keil said up to 70 per cent of babies were injured during birth, and while most injuries were minor they could be a problem for parents.

A Northern Territory mother flew to Melbourne this week to see a chiropractor and learned her three-month-old daughter had a fractured collarbone and a dislocated shoulder, allegedly sustained during birth.

Dr Keil said of about 20 babies he saw each week, about half had undiagnosed shoulder problems. “A collarbone fracture should not be missed in the hospital but quite commonly they are, and… parents go home with a baby that screams a lot and they don’t know why. A lot of them are given a diagnosis of reflux and given medication, which is not really appropriate,” Dr Keil said.

But Royal Women’s Hospital woman’s services clinical director Jeremy Oats said fractures and dislocations were rare and had no long-term consequences for infants. He said doctors and chiropractors had differing opinions about diagnosis and he doubted doctors were missing important health problems. Dr Oats said shoulder dislocations took place in about one in 1000 births and it took only four weeks for fractured collarbones to heal in a newborn.

A mum from a remote Arnhem Land community, Tracie McQueen, said she was shocked to learn her daughter, Sierra, had had a fractured collarbone and dislocated shoulder after being born in November. She travelled to Melbourne for treatment because there were no services available near her. Ms McQueen said she and her husband, Gavin, endured sleepless nights and wondered why Sierra would feed only on one side, struggled to use her right arm, and refused to lie on her right side.

“I tore my hair out by the end of it,” Ms McQueen said. “I thought it was strange, because every time I put her down on that side she started crying, but stopped when I lifted her up. If we didn’t seek it out there could have been long-term side effects for her, so I am just so glad we came down.”

Ms McQueen urged all mothers to demand a thorough check of their babies before leaving hospital and to seek help if their child was unsettled.

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