Birth trauma and torticollis

On Behalf of | May 29, 2024 | Birth Injuries

Birth trauma and torticollis can affect newborns, causing distress to both the baby and their parents. Torticollis affects many infants, and it can potentially lead to long-term complications.

It is important for parents to understand why these conditions occur and how they can impact a baby’s development.

Risk factors

Birth trauma can occur due to a difficult or prolonged labor, the use of forceps or vacuum extraction during delivery or other factors that put undue stress on the baby’s body. One common condition that can result from birth trauma is torticollis, also known as wry neck. Torticollis is a condition where the muscles in the neck become tight or shortened, causing the baby’s head to tilt to one side. This can make it difficult for the baby to turn their head in both directions and can lead to issues with feeding, sleeping and overall development.

Torticollis can be congenital, meaning the baby is born with it, or acquired, developing after birth due to birth trauma or other factors. According to MedlinePlus, torticollis can result from the baby’s head position in the womb. However, a doctor or healthcare provider can potentially cause torticollis in a newborn during delivery if excessive force is applied to the baby’s head or neck. This can happen if forceps or vacuum extraction are used incorrectly or if there is excessive pulling or twisting during the delivery process. In such cases, the baby’s neck muscles may become strained or injured, leading to torticollis.

Treating torticollis

It is important for parents to be aware of the signs of torticollis, such as a persistent head tilt or difficulty turning the head, so that they can seek early intervention and treatment. Treatment for torticollis typically involves physical therapy to help stretch and strengthen the neck muscles. This may include exercises to improve the baby’s range of motion and positioning techniques to encourage the baby to turn their head in both directions.

In some cases, a special neck brace or helmet may be recommended to help correct the baby’s head position. Babies with torticollis may be at risk for delays in reaching developmental milestones, such as rolling over, sitting up and crawling. It is important for parents to be vigilant and advocate for the best possible care for their newborn if they suspect any issues related to their baby’s health and development.


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