Birth Injury:

Bone Fractures

A fractured collar bone (clavicle) is the most common birth injury affecting the bones; it is often unpredictable and unavoidable. However, a developing a fractured bone at birth could be the result of medical negligence on the part of the doctor, if the delivery complications were foreseeable or if he or she did not respond properly. The long bones, such as the thigh (femur) or arm (humerus) can also be fracture during birth.

Risk Factors: Bones Fractures at Birth

Certain conditions indicate a higher likelihood of bone fractures at birth; these include:

  • Large babies (8 lbs, 13 oz or more)
  • Maternal History of problematic births or large babies
  • Maternal or Gestational Diabetes
  • Maternal Obesity
  • Long pregnancies (more than 40 weeks)
  • Breach deliveries
  • Forceps deliveries

Signs of a Bone Fracture

However, even if the baby is large, there is less than a 10 percent chance the baby will get stuck and an even small chance that a bone fracture will result; bone fractures at birth are rare. The signs of a bone fracture in newborns are straightforward and should be apparent:

  • The baby will likely not move the broken limb
  • Obvious pain in the form of immediate and inconsolable crying
  • The broken area may be swollen and/or tender, causing the baby to cry when touched
  • There may be an unnatural bump in the broken region
  • Bruising

Diagnosis and Treatment for Bone Fractures in Newborns

An X-ray (radiographic study) administered by the doctor will confirm if the limb or collar bone is actually fractured. The long term prognosis is quite favorable. The clavicle, after immobilization, should heal in about 10 days. The long bones take slightly longer, but complete recovery typically occurs between 2 and 4 weeks. Surgery is rarely needed in cases of fractures and there should be no permanent or lasting damage. It is advisable to speak with you doctor about care for the child during the recovery time.