65 percent of infants diagnosed with Horner syndrome were the result of a birth injury.
Horner syndrome is a condition caused by damage to the nerve pathway leading from the brain to the eyes and face. It is a rare condition and effects only 1.42 in 100,000 people under the age of 19 years. 1 in 6,250 cases happen at birth and 65 percent of these cases result from birth injuries.
Symptoms of Horner Syndrome
Horner syndrome normally affects only one side of the face. Common symptoms of Horner syndrome include:
- different pupil sizes
- eye may appear sunken
- miosis – excessive constriction of the pupil
- eye may appear bloodshot
- drooping of the upper eyelid
- negative pupil dilation test
- isolated patch of skin on the side of the face
- little or no sweating on the side of the face
- iris in each eye may be a different color
Common Causes of Horner Syndrome
There can be a variety of causes of Horner syndrome; however, infants develop this condition congenitally or because of a birth injury or medical negligence. Congenital disorders that can lead to Horner syndrome include:
- carotid artery ischemia
- artery problems
Birth injuries that can lead to Horner syndrome include:
- improper use of forceps during delivery
- shoulder dystocia
- pulling the infant too hard, causing tears to the sympathetic nerves
- failure to respond to fetal distress in a timely and appropriate manner
- failure to detect an infant in breech position and perform timely delivery
- failure to perform a cesarean section surgery in time
Treatment for Horner Syndrome
Whenever a doctor suspects the infant to be suffering from Horner syndrome, they will administer a pupil dilation test to check how the pupil responds to stimuli. They may also perform a physical exam and order an MRI to determine if a birth injury has occured. There is no treatment for Horner syndrome but doctors can identify the underlying cause and treat it. In some cases, the nerve injuries causing Horner syndrome may heal on their own or medication or even surgery may be required.
Prognosis of Horner Syndrome
Some patients may experience lifelong problems on the affected side. The prognosis largely depends on the severity of the condition and how quickly it is diagnosed and treated. A delay in diagnosis or treatment of the underlying conditions can cause complications that can be life-threatening.
Chicago Birth Injury Lawyers
If you think your child’s horner syndrome is a result of a birth injury caused by a doctor’s negligence, speak with a Chicago birth injury lawyer to discuss your legal rights. Call Willens Law Offices at (312) 957-4166.