NJ Birth Fracture Injury Attorneys
Assisting Families with Infants who Suffer Broken Bones during Childbirth
While some birth outcomes have improved over the last decades due to advancements in technology, declining use of forceps, and more cesarean births, newborns still suffer significant birth injuries during delivery. Bone fractures at birth, for example, are common injuries that cause harm to babies during childbirth. Under limited circumstances, a birth fracture injury is inevitable. However, the majority of fractures result from some form of birth trauma that could have been avoided with appropriate planning and care by obstetricians and other medical professionals.
If you have a sneaking suspicion that your baby suffered a birth fracture injury due to medical negligence on the part of your doctor or another healthcare provider, it is important to have your case investigated by an experienced birth injury attorney who can determine whether you have a valid legal claim. Our distinguished team of New Jersey birth injury lawyers can examine your child’s unique case and if you have what is necessary for a lawsuit, we will aggressively pursue compensation for your family’s mental, physical, and financial suffering. It is our passion to assist families with holding negligent medical professionals accountable when mothers or their children suffer harm. Contact us at (866)-708-8617 for a free consultation and get help today.
Types of Broken Bones at Birth
The most common birth fractures occur to the shoulder, neck, and arms. In fact, clavicle fractures comprise 1.5% of all birth injuries. Other common types of injuries involving broken bones include growth plate, femur, humerus, and skull fractures.
Clavicle, or collar bone fractures, may occur during a complicated delivery or at birth when the baby is too large, the mother’s birth canal is too small, the baby’s shoulder gets stuck coming out of the birth canal, the baby is breech, or birth assistance tools are used to help deliver the baby. A newborn with a clavicle fracture is typically fussy and crying when the arm affected by the clavicle fracture is moved, especially when the infant is picked up and carried. The baby may not move the affected arm either. The clavicle connects the chest to the shoulder, so a fracture may affect both the bone and nerves in the area, including the shoulder and arm.
Depending on how severe the fracture and nerve damage, a baby may be unable to move the arm as it hangs useless, or one shoulder may appear higher than the other. When the bone heals, it may produce a bump at the fracture site after ten days to several weeks. If a break is suspected, doctors may use X-rays and ultrasound to detect broken collar bones. In some cases, the fracture may heal on its own, or a makeshift sling pinning the sleeve of the affected arm to the chest, may be necessary to stabilize the arm while healing. Complications of collar bone fractures at birth include brachial plexus injuries that occur because this network of nerves is so close to the clavicle. Thus, the collar bone fracture affects that nearby nerve bundle called the brachial plexus and causes the arm to be temporarily or permanently damaged.
In the same region, the humerus or upper arm bone can break when the baby becomes wedged in the birth canal. Just like a clavicle fracture, the baby may not move their arm or cry when the arm is moved. Again, stabilizing the arm and keeping it from moving by pinning the pajama sleeve of the affected arm to the opposite shoulder and then wrapping a stretchable netting across the chest to keep the arm from moving helps healing. And just like the clavicle fracture, the body may heal this type of fractures within a few weeks on its own. And yet, if the bone is not lined up perfectly, it may leave behind a bump at the site, in addition to being painful for an infant.
Growth Plate Fractures
Another type of broken bone, a growth plate fracture, occurs when softer cartilage around the end of the fast-growing bones, like the forearm, leg and fingers, become twisted during delivery. These soft spots can be injured at birth and are detected by swelling at the end of an arm or leg bone. In addition to any other recommendations, treatment consists of protecting the area to allow healing. Complications from growth plate fractures may be permanent, underscoring the need for timely identification and proper treatment to avoid ongoing problems with mobility and lifelong disability.
Other leg fractures during birth affect the femur, the thigh bone extending from the hip to the knee, that may be injured when the baby’s leg is oddly contorted while coming out of the birth canal. These broken bones are diagnosed when a baby exhibits pain when moved, such as when being picked up or during a diaper change. The leg can be stabilized at the hip with a Pavlik harness that keeps the hips lined up within the hip joint.
Finally, skull fractures may occur from the birth process itself. The baby’s head is forced through the birth canal, compressing the head into a convex shape (known as molding) and, with the additional compression of the mother’s pelvic bones, the forceful squeezing sometimes leads to skull fractures. Some skull fractures may be recovered from with limited treatment, some require corrective surgery, and others are significant enough to cause brain injury, including brain bleeding when the fracture indents and presses on the brain, which can lead to neurological damage, paralysis, developmental delays, and cognitive problems.
Bone Fractures Injuries caused by Medical Negligence during Birth
Depending on the nature and extent to which broken bones affect surrounding nerves and tissues, some birth fractures heal on their own, others require splinting, still others require surgery to put them back into place, and the worst cases can leave permanent damage. A break at the end of a bone is more likely to grow abnormally crooked or long, like in femur and growth plate fractures.
Sadly, most birth fractures can be prevented with patience, appropriate decision-making, and by exercising due care during the birthing process. Beyond that, preparation is the number one way to avoid fractures to the baby in labor and delivery. Doctors who respond quickly to maternal and fetal distress can perform an emergency C-section to avoid the bruising and beating of labor and delivery when the doctor recognizes risk factors for fractures and other serious complications. For instance, some of the leading risk factors for fracture injuries during birth include:
- The baby is very large, a condition known as fetal macrosomia
- The mother’s pelvis is too small
- The baby is in breech position
- Maternal conditions such as gestational diabetes
In addition to failure to recognize risk factors, some doctors are negligent in their substandard response or course of conduct, which may result in broken bones for babies. For example, medical professionals should do everything they can to avoid ultimately pulling on the baby with excessive force during difficult labor, or improperly using forceps or vacuum extractors to ineffectively extract the baby from the mother.
Overall, failure to determine the need for a cesarean delivery or mistakes when handling the birth of your child may result in preventable bone fractures and other serious birth injuries that require extensive treatment, mounting medical costs, and inflict horrible trauma on you and your family. When these tragic scenarios happen, you can hold doctors accountable by law and seek financial damages.
Our New Jersey Lawyers are Here to Discuss Your Baby’s Broken Bones during Delivery
If your baby’s bone fractures resulted from improper medical care, seek advice from a knowledgeable attorney experienced in birth injury medical malpractice litigation. You may be eligible for compensation for your economic losses and emotional suffering, and our lawyers can assist you with achieving this, as we have helped countless families like yours throughout New Jersey. Call (866)-708-8617 to learn more. We provide no-cost, no obligation consultations.
- The Significance of Incomplete Skull Fracture in the Birth Injury, National Library of Medicine
- Newborn Humerus Fracture, North Children’s
- Newborn Clavicle Fractures, Nationwide Children’s