Pediatric Vocal Cord Paralysis
Pediatric vocal cord paralysis occurs when a child’s vocal cords cannot move. This can occur on one side (unilateral) or both sides (bilateral) of the vocal cords.
Vocal cord paralysis occurs when the vocal cords (vocal folds) cannot move and are unable to reach each other, creating a gap between them. This gap can affect a child’s breathing and their ability to speak.
Pediatric vocal cord paralysis can be caused spontaneously (unknown reason), or be the result of a:
- Complication from intubation (plastic tubing in the trachea (windpipe) to assist breathing)
- Traumatic injury
- Viral infection
There are two types of vocal cord paralysis:
- Unilateral vocal cord paralysis — when a child’s vocal cords cannot move on one side.
- Bilateral vocal cord paralysis — when a child’s vocal cords cannot move on both sides.
Symptoms of pediatric vocal cord paralysis include:
- Crying (weak cry for infants (birth to 1 year*)
- Noisy breathing
- Voice change
- Swallowing difficulties
*Age of infants as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO).