Clavicle Fracture

A clavicle fracture is a common injury that arises as a result of a broken collar bone. Clavicle fractures can occur at birth, especially during assisted deliveries, with an incidence rate reaching 10 percent, according to a 2015 study by Dr. Nirupama Loroia in Medscape.

What Causes a Clavicle Fracture?

A fractured clavicle can naturally occur during a vaginal delivery, when the baby is passing through the birth canal. Larger babies are more likely to sustain an injury to their clavicle. Moreover, a narrow birth canal or a baby’s shoulder getting stuck during delivery puts the baby at risk of a clavicle fracture. However, babies’ clavicles may become damaged because of the misuse of tools and medical negligence during birth, as per an article from Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City.
Throughout the onset of delivery, proper medical attention must be emphasized to prevent injuries to the newborn. Mechanical forces like compression and traction can result in such injuries. Unfortunately, trauma to the clavicle can occur during many instances during birth as a result of medical neglect, such as:
  1. Experiencing a direct blow to the clavicle, such as falling on an outstretched arm.
  2. Misusing forceps when guiding the baby’s head out of the birth canal.
  3. Unnecessarily resorting to a vacuum-assisted delivery or misusing a vacuum extractor during birth.
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What Are the Symptoms of Clavicle Fracture?

Often, a newborn with a broken clavicle suffers from extreme fussiness and intense crying. Another common sign may be holding the damaged arm bent towards the chest to minimize any pain. However, if the infant’s arm is seemingly limp, the fracture may be coupled with nerve damage.
Another sign of a clavicle fracture is if the baby’s collarbone can move when it’s pressed on. The affected shoulder would appear at a lower level relative to the other. Finally, a bump known as a fracture callus may begin forming near the affected location.

How Is a Clavicle Fracture Treated?

Doctors can detect clavicle fractures during the examination period after delivery. If doctors suspect a fracture is present, an X-ray will be ordered to confirm the diagnosis. Sometimes, the fracture is relatively minimal, at its early stage. Thus, it will remain undiagnosed. In that case, fussiness, intense crying, and the formation of a fracture callus will eventually trigger an investigation into the possibility of a fracture, according to an article by physicians in Advances in Neonatal Care.
Often, clavicle fractures heal over time without any treatment. The baby’s arm and shoulder need to be still for a few days by the use of a sling or by pinning the baby’s sleeve to his or her shirt.

What Are the Long-term Effects of a Clavicle Fracture?

It may take a while for the fracture callus to disappear. However, according to literature from Nationwide Children’s Hospital, one in 11 cases of clavicle fracture at birth result in brachial plexus injury, or the tear of nerves.
If a tear is severe, or the nerve is completely ruptured, the damage may result in a permanent disability that requires surgical procedures to help restore nerve functionality.

Is a Clavicle Fracture Caused by Medical Malpractice?

Sometimes, obstetricians attempt to speed up deliveries, by resorting to the use of certain tools. This practice can pose a risk to newborns’ clavicles and can cause nerves to tear. Delivering a baby is a major event. Thus, the process must be as safe as possible. Doctors should solely focus on the wellbeing of the mother and her child.

Morgan & Morgan’s Birth Injury Team

If your baby experienced clavicle fracture due to malpractice, a lawsuit could provide you with the compensation you and your child deserve — and the just your negligent medical professionals deserve, too. Our team has recovered millions of dollars from lawsuits related to birth injuries resulting from medical negligence.

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