What to Do in the Event of a Newborn Clavicle Fracture

What to Do in the Event of a Newborn Clavicle Fracture

by / Friday, 19 October 2018 / Published in Birth Trauma
X-ray of shoulder showing collarbone injury

Even though great progress has been made in making childbirth a safer process for both the mother and child, birth injuries do still occur. Birth injuries take many different forms, but broken bones are one of the most common kinds. According to Nationwide Children’s Hospital, clavicle fractures are the most common kind of birth injury newborns sustain during birth.

A baby’s body is very delicate and during the delivery process, a lot of strain can be put on the child’s shoulder and collarbone area. In many cases, clavicle fractures occur in larger-than-average infants and/or during difficult deliveries. Sometimes, a child’s arm will be in a less-than-ideal position as it moves through the birth canal. If the child’s shoulder becomes stuck behind the mother’s pelvic bone, known as shoulder dystocia, this can increase the risk that the baby will be born with a broken collarbone. Birth-assisting tools can also result in clavicle fractures if they aren’t used correctly.

One of the hardest things about having an injured newborn is that they aren’t able to tell you there’s a problem. An older child or adult will be able to say that they’re experiencing pain or tell you about other symptoms they might have, but with babies, you have to know the symptoms to watch for. An infant born with a broken clavicle might keep one arm close to their body and refuse to move it. If you try to move the impacted arm for the child, they might begin to cry. As weeks pass, you may begin to notice a hard lump in the impacted area, which naturally occurs as the injury heals.

In some cases, a broken clavicle can injure more than the bone. About 1 in 11 newborns born with a fractured clavicle also have a brachial plexus injury, which is an injury to a group of nerves that extends from the spine and through the neck and arms. If this is the case, the child might be unable to move the impacted arm.

If you suspect your child has a fractured clavicle, an X-ray will be able to make the diagnosis. The sooner a fracture is diagnosed, the more likely it is the child will fully recover without long-term complications. But if the fracture doesn’t heal properly and the injury is severe enough, it can cause problems like a limited range of motion, delays in developing motor skills, and numbness in the impacted arm.

Although clavicle fractures in newborns are common, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re unavoidable. If your child experienced a broken collarbone at birth and you feel like it could have been prevented, contact a birth trauma lawyer. The tragic reality about birth injuries is that they so often occur because of negligence. It’s always upsetting to have an injured child, but a lawyer will be able to help answer your questions and figure out what to do next. At Goodwin & Scieszka, we’re highly experienced in handling cases related to birth injuries. Contact us to talk to an attorney who can help you through this difficult situation.