Most of us picture broken bones occurring to children who are playing a sport or who take a tumble on the playground. But in fact, a fair amount of fractures occur to infants as they are being born.
Although many babies may be slightly bruised as part of the normal birthing process, an infant who suffers a broken bone usually endured a preventable injury during labor.
The Boston birth injury attorneys at The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman believe that when a child suffers unnecessary harm due to medical error or oversight, the doctor, hospital or other health care providers should be held accountable.
One study published in the Indian Journal of Pediatrics indicated an incidence rate of 1 broken bone injury per 1,000 live births over an 11-year period. Among the most common of those were:
- Clavicle bone fractures (45.7 percent)
- Humerus fractures (20 percent)
- Femur fractures (14.3 percent)
- Depressed skull fractures (11.4 percent)
Other types of neonatal fractures included orbital fracture and dislocated elbow joint.
Risk factors associated with broken bones during delivery included:
- Lack of prenatal care;
- Breech position of fetus;
- Fetal distress during delivery;
- C-section deliveries.
Bone fractures in newborn infants led to longer hospital stays and higher rates of infant death. Early identification of high-risk mothers and appropriate care provided immediately after birth may reduce or mitigate the risk of bone injuries during delivery.How Do These Incidents Occur?
In most cases, broken bones and fractures during childbirth are preventable.
One of the most common causes of bone fractures during delivery is a condition known as cephalopelvic disorder, or CPD. This is when the child is too large to safely and successfully pass through the mother’s cervix. It’s a condition that can be identified prior to birth and avoided by planning to schedule a C-section, rather than forcing the child and mother to go through what would be a stressful and ultimately unsuccessful labor.
Another common cause is the improper use of birth-assisting tools, such as vacuum or forceps. Here again, ordering a C-section may eliminate this risk entirely.
In some cases, medical staff who are inexperienced may pull at the child, even when there is no valid medical reason to do so. This could be very dangerous to both the mother and child, and may result in broken bones. Inexperience is also sometimes cited when broken bones result from a staffer attempting to pick up a baby by the arms, instead of securely supporting the neck and back.Symptoms of Broken Bones and Fractures
When a newborn has suffered a broken bone or fracture, it may not always be easy to ascertain. After all, a baby can’t tell you where it hurts. Still, there may be some key signs that indicate a problem:
- Little or no movement in a certain area;
- A lump or bulge in the affected area;
- Indications of pain, such as constant crying;
- Sagging of an affected shoulder or area;
- Redness and bruising;
It’s imperative for parents and other caregivers to be aware of this possibility and to maintain a keen alert for such problems.
As the Boston Children’s Hospital notes, pediatric bone fractures don’t heal the same way adult bone fractures do. Medical treatment is always required when a baby has suffered a broken bone. Failure to receive it could result in growth problems that could result in permanent disability.
Doctors and other health care providers especially need to be watchful and take appropriate action to detect and diagnose a broken bone as quickly as possible.Birth-Related Clavicle Fracture
One of the more common infant bone fractures associated with labor and delivery is a clavicle fracture.
This is a break in the “collar bone,” and it’s typically associated with a difficult delivery. Some factors that may increase the risk, as identified by the Nationwide Children’s Hospital, include:
- Late-term (large) fetus;
- Shoulder dystocia (shoulder obstructed after delivery of the head);
- Narrow birth canal;
- Use of tools to aid in delivery.
The biggest complication as a result of this condition is an inability of the baby to move his or her arm due to the brachial plexus injury. The brachial plexus is a cluster of nerves near the shoulder that allow arm function. The Nationwide Children’s Hospital reports that 1 in 11 babies who experience clavicle fracture during birth will suffer damage to the brachial plexus, which will result in inability to move either temporarily until the nerve heals or permanently.
If your child has suffered a broken bone during childbirth, call our offices today to learn more about your options for pursuing legal action.