The most common injuries that newborns incur during delivery are fractures to their clavicle or collarbone. The risk for fracture is especially high during difficult deliveries and in cases where newborns incur birth trauma. Parents across New York will want to know more about clavicle fractures and how they can detect them.
Factors that increase the chances of a fracture include a large baby and a narrow birth canal. Sometimes a newborn’s shoulder becomes stuck, causing it to fracture, or the doctor’s use of certain tools to assist in delivery could cause the injury. Symptoms include a hunched shoulder and limited mobility in the affected arm. The baby may cry each time the arm is moved or when the baby is lifted from under the arms.
When the fracture affects the brachial plexus, where the nerves of the arm are located, the baby may not move the arm at all. It will hang limp at the side, and the shoulder will appear lower than the other. The brachial plexus is injured in an estimated 1 out of every 11 clavicle fracture cases. When the fracture itself heals, it can leave a visible lump.
Doctors can easily detect a fracture via X-ray or ultrasound. Usually, no treatment is required to heal the fracture or the nerves, and no long-term problems arise.
Still, parents have the right to file for compensatory damages if they know that a doctor’s negligence caused the fracture. To see if they have a viable case, parents may opt to meet with a lawyer who focuses on malpractice in general and obstetric negligence in particular. The lawyer may be able to request an inquiry with the local medical board and bring in third-party investigators and other experts to build up the case. If negotiations prove successful, the parents might be reimbursed for past and even future medical expenses.