Newborn Facial Paralysis Attorneys in New Jersey
NJ Lawyers for Infants with Facial Palsy caused by Birth Trauma
One of the resulting injuries from traumatic birth is facial paralysis, a condition characterized by the loss of controlled facial muscle movement caused by pressure to the facial or seventh cranial nerve during labor and delivery. The most recognizable form of facial paralysis appears when a baby cries through a lopsided mouth resulting from affected lower facial nerves around the lips. While some newborns recover from the condition within six months, 10% do not. If your newborn is one of the 10%, you may want to know more about your baby’s condition and be wondering if the injury could have been prevented. Birth trauma injuries like facial paralysis most often result from difficult deliveries due to large babies, long labor, extended pregnancies, and the use of Pitocin and epidurals, which may ultimately require the use of delivery instruments like forceps and vacuum extractors. Unfortunately, negligence on the part of a medical provider is often a factor when traumatic birth injuries occur.
If a doctor’s negligence during labor and delivery caused your child’s facial paralysis injury, it is critical to understand your rights and legal options. You and your baby may be entitled to compensation. Our skilled New Jersey birth malpractice attorneys can evaluate your claim and advise you about seeking compensation for your family’s past and future losses, as well as the pain and suffering caused by medical professionals’ mistakes. Call (866)-708-8617 now to discuss your baby’s facial paralysis case with an experienced attorney who can personally advise and further assist you and your family. We provide consultations free of charge so please do not hesitate to contact us for answers to your questions today.
What Causes Infant Facial Paralysis?
Infant facial paralysis results from congenital, traumatic, or developmental causes. It may be described as unilateral or bilateral, complete or partial, indicating the areas affected. Although developmental facial paralysis due to Mobius syndrome (facial paralysis) is reasonably common, paralysis to the baby’s facial nerve immediately before or during delivery is the leading cause. In fact, facial paralysis is frequently caused by difficult deliveries requiring delivery instruments, especially forceps, is the most common cause, comprising about 88% of all cases. Forceps, which look like large salad spoons or tongs, may excessively compress the bones of the face during guided extraction of the baby from the womb.
Other potential causes of facial paralysis in babies include:
- Brain hemorrhage
- Inner ear deformities
- Cranial nerve defects
- Other genetic defects, such as missing facial muscles or nerves
- Cleft palate
- Internal organ dysfunction
- Cayler Cardiac Syndrome: a congenital heart disease that causes one side of the face to be paralyzed.
Medications like thalidomide (sedative) and misoprostol (steroid) can also cause facial paralysis.
Signs and Symptoms of Facial Paralysis in Newborns
Babies born with facial paralysis may be unable to fully close one or both eyes, they may show no facial wrinkling even when crying, or they may have no facial movement at all. In some cases, only the lower half of the face appears noticeably uneven when crying, which causes difficulty feeding due to the muscle paralysis that prevents sucking. Damage to the eyes is a critical situation, requiring artificial tears insertion and eye pads during the day and ointment when the child is sleeping to protect against vision loss.
How is Facial Paralysis Diagnosed in Babies?
Diagnosis includes a physical examination and review of the mother’s medical history of congenital conditions, as well as previous pregnancy and delivery complications. Chromosomal defects testing may rule out other conditions for newborns with full facial paralysis. A medical provider usually diagnoses facial paralysis in the hospital and monitors the condition. However, some mild forms of facial paralysis may not be visible at first, only later appearing to parents or caretakers noticing the differing sides of the mouth when the baby cries. At the first signs of the condition, the baby should see a doctor for evaluation and treatment. If the paralysis persists, the child’s future speech, emotional expressions and chewing may be affected.
Treatment for Facial Paralysis in Children
If facial paralysis does not resolve on its own, an electromyography (EMG) test is typically given to examine nerve health and explore potential repair. A motor nerve conduction test may also be prescribed to test nerve stimulation and response to locate the nerve injury, and surgery may be required to ease nerve pressure. A brain scan may be conducted in rare cases to rule out other problems, like strokes or tumors. In the worst-case scenario, muscle and nerve transplants may help to resolve permanent paralysis, followed by therapy.
While there is no way to prevent facial paralysis caused by pressure injuries, other than the medical practitioner’s proper use of birth assistance devices and safer labor and delivery, it is important to differentiate between congenital, developmental, and birth trauma facial nerve paralysis when designing a treatment plan. For example, steroids may be used in treating paralysis caused by birth trauma, whereas no procedures are available to restore facial muscle functioning in a developmental case of paralysis. In some cases, therapeutic treatment may restore some facial functioning.
Pursue Compensation for Your Child’s Facial Paralysis Birth Injury in NJ
Whether your child will need long-term therapy, surgery, facial nerve transplants, or expensive tests, medical costs can mount in the course of treating infant facial paralysis. Since the condition arises most often due to birth trauma, you may want to know if the injury was avoidable. Medical mistakes happen. Your physician, who may have improperly used birth assistance devices, allowed labor to continue too long, misdiagnosed fetal macrosomia (large baby), failed to properly analyze your medical history, unnecessarily induced labor, or otherwise failed to provide medical services up to the expected standard of care of a similarly situated medical professional, could have contributed to your baby’s facial birth injury. You should consider consulting with an experienced New Jersey birth injury lawyer who can further investigate your child’s facial paralysis case to uncover possible negligence. Get a free legal consultation by contacting us at (866)-708-8617 today.
- Facial nerve palsy, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center
- Facial nerve palsy due to birth trauma, MedlinePlus
- Traumatic facial nerve palsy in newborn: A benign condition, Journal of Clinical Neonatology
- Congenital Facial Paralysis, Medscape