Bell’s Palsy

Bell’s Palsy refers to paralysis or weakness on one side of the face. Typically, Bell’s Palsy is not a long-term condition. However, it has been strongly linked to serious health conditions that significantly impact babies, specifically.

What Causes Bell’s Palsy?

The loss of voluntary facial muscle movement due to birth trauma can occur just before or at the onset of delivery. Having a difficult delivery can lead to such damage impacting the seventh cranial nerve.
There are many factors that can cause birth trauma. These include having a large baby, using epidurals, inducing labor with medicine, and sturdier contractions. Also, relatively long pregnancies and labor can lead to Bell’s Palsy.
Finally, resorting to delivery facilitators such as vacuum extractors and forceps can increase the risk of facial nerve palsy, according to literature from the Mayo Clinic.

What Are the Symptoms of Bell’s Palsy?

Bell’s Palsy as a result of birth trauma most commonly results in damage to the lower part of the facial nerve that controls the lips’ muscles. Typically, this impairment is most noticeable when the affected baby cries.
Other symptoms of Bell’s Palsy include eyelids that cannot be shut, an uneven lower face coupled with an unevenly moving mouth. The injured infant may also show signs of facial paralysis, where one side of his or her face is incapable of moving entirely.
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How Is Bell’s Palsy Treated?

Bell’s Palsy treatment consists mostly of a physical exam and close monitoring. Sometimes, doctors recommend a nerve conduction test that would isolate the nerve location. However, no brain imaging tests are typically required.
Most cases of Bell’s Palsy caused by birth trauma need to be closely monitored to follow up on the regression of the paralysis. Also, babies who incur damage to one of their eyes may need an eye patch. In some instances, surgery is necessary to relieve pressure exerted on the nerve. Finally, special needs therapy is needed if the paralysis becomes permanent.

What Are the Long-Term Effects of Bell’s Palsy?

Generally, Bell’s Palsy resolves itself within two months of its onset. But, in many cases, the affected newborn may require medication, such as corticosteroids and acyclovir.
In severe cases, facial muscles can become paralyzed indefinitely causing irreversible nerve damage and permanent weakness. In cases where the baby’s eye was affected, partial or full blindness may occur, according to a recent study by neurologists.

Is Bell’s Palsy Caused by Medical Malpractice?

While several factors can influence the onset of Bell’s Palsy, errors in the medical realm do occur and can cause the condition as well. Your doctor may have caused your baby’s birth injury if he or she improperly used delivery facilitators like forceps and vacuum extractors.
If your doctor failed to properly monitor your contractions and prevent them from pressuring your baby’s face, he or she could cause Bell’s Palsy. Also, doctors that unnecessarily caused cuts and abrasions during birth and he did not properly handle the baby after birth can cause Bell’s Palsy.
Other ways doctors can invoke Bell’s Palsy include actions relating to oxygen deprivation, failing to handle infections post-delivery, and other reckless mistakes.

How You Can Hold Medical Professionals Accountable for Bell’s Palsy

Our medical professionals and lawyers at Morgan & Morgan understand the trust parents place in doctors’ hands to properly and safely perform a delivery. Our team wants to help you with your case.
If your baby underwent a birth trauma that led to Bell’s Palsy, contact us for free and we’ll discuss helping you pursue compensation for the harms your child and family have suffered. We’ve helped parents like you recover millions to help with the financial burden of medical needs and care.
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