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Newborn and Infant Care

Dev problems, baby stuck in birth canal



I was reading one of your articles on a baby being stuck in the birth canal & the resulting physical effects due to lack of oxygen. I was wondering if my son could be tested to see if his difficulty in speech articulation is a result of his birth. I was in induced, labor 36 hrs, pushing for 5, he was stuck in the birth canal (don`t know how long), did an emergency c-section, had to shove him back into my uterus (a lot of pressure). We were in the hospital for 6 days, he was in ICU for 3 to 4 days as his bellirubin (sp) count was too high. At 3 yrs of age, he received therapy for fine motor skills and speech for about 1 1/2 to 2 years. He is 8 now but he has never been able to "get his words" out. It is very frustrating for him as I know that the thoughts are there, but his words come out garbled much of the time. He has a sister, born a year later w/ a planned c-section who has never had any problems with speech or other. Thank you for you time and response...


It is possible that his difficult birth resulted in some level of oxygen deprivation that could have impacted his brain's function. The same is true for a high level of bilirubin that most commonly leads to hearing deficits, which lead to speech problems, and problems with fine motor skills. The high bilirubin level may have been due to his traumatic birth experience if he had widespread bruising or or if he received too much placental blood at birth.

Sometimes these problems are inherited within families, so if there are aunts, uncles, cousins, and or grandparents who had similar difficulties, the tendency for these problems is likely in his genetic make up. The speech and fine motor problems may have been made worse by his difficult birth and high bilirubin level.

It sounds as though he should still be receiving speech therapy, which his school is obligated to provide if he needs it. If he is not still in speech therapy, write a letter to the school principal asking for your son to have a speech and language evaluation and audiological testing. By federal law, the school must respond to your written request within 2 weeks, scheduling his evaluations. This will identify if he has a treatable hearing loss as well as the need for ongoing speech therapy.

There are many developmental problems for which it is virtually impossible to identify an exact cause. It is frustrating for parents, who often wonder "what if" or worry they could have been avoided somehow. These are very normal feelings and thoughts.

The important thing is that you have recognized your son's need for help and you are ready to help get it for him and support his therapy. Good parents are essential to their child's well being and success. Obviously you care about him and want the best for him, so he is a lucky little boy!

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Response by:

Mary M Gottesman, PhD, RN, CPNP, FAAN Mary M Gottesman, PhD, RN, CPNP, FAAN
Professor of Clinical Nursing
College of Nursing
The Ohio State University