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Clavicle fractures in newborns: causes and treatments

During the delivery process, infants may suffer an injury to their clavicle, or collarbone. Clavicle fractures are among the most common birth injuries, so parents in Pennsylvania will want to know how it occurs and how it can be treated.

There are various factors that can increase the risk for clavicle fractures, such as a large baby and a narrow birth canal. The baby may naturally get a shoulder stuck during delivery, or the use of forceps and other birth-assisting tools may inadvertently cause the fracture. The resulting pain in the clavicle will lead the infant to cry or become fussy whenever the affected arm is moved. There will also be limited movement in that arm. The affected shoulder may droop slightly. While the bone will usually heal without the need for treatment, it may develop a lump that can be felt when touching the shoulder.

Doctors can confirm a fracture by taking X-ray or ultrasound images. One out of every 11 babies who break their collarbone develop damage to their brachial plexus. The brachial plexus is a cluster of nerves for the arm. When the broken bone damages this, the baby will be unable to move the arm. This can be temporary if the nerves heal, or it can be permanent.

As suggested above, doctors may contribute to such an injury through the use of birth-assisting tools. However, it must be clear that the doctors did not live up to a generally accepted standard of care in order for there to be a valid medical malpractice case. Parents who believe that malpractice caused a birth injury may want legal advice and guidance moving forward.