Birth Injuries – Facial Injuries

Obstetricians and other doctors in the birth delivery and aftercare process should anticipate the many things that can go wrong – both in the delivery room and afterward in the hospital. There are many birth injuries that are preventable if they are treated competently and quickly.

Some birth injuries affect a newborn’s life permanently. Others can affect their lives for weeks or months at a time. The child and parents have the right to hold birth doctors who commit medical malpractice liable and to demand damages for medical care, pain and suffering, and the changed life the baby will have.

One type of birth trauma physicians should anticipate is facial nerve palsy, according to Medline Plus, part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, stating, “Facial nerve palsy due to birth trauma is the loss of controllable (voluntary) muscle movement in an infant’s face due to pressure on the facial nerve in the face just before or at the time of birth.”

While the causes of this disorder aren’t always clear, a difficult delivery makes the condition more likely. The improper use of forceps may be a factor. Doctors and hospitals must understand the conditions that might cause facial nerve palsy and then take extra steps to prevent or reduce the risk of a difficult delivery.

The indicators for facial nerve palsy or paralysis

The factors that suggest the potential for this birth injury include:

  • A baby that is large in size
  • A long pregnancy or labor
  • Use of epidural anesthesia
  • Use of a medicine to induce labor and stronger contractions

Facial nerve palsy symptoms, tests, and treatment

Generally, birth trauma affects the lower part of the facial nerve, controlling the muscles around the lips. This weakness is mostly noticeable when the baby cries.

Other birth injury symptoms include:

  • The inability of an eyelid to close
  • The mouth may not move evenly when the newborn cries
  • The area of the face below the eyes looks uneven when the baby cries
  • A paralysis on the affected side of the face

Facial nerve palsy is usually detected through a physical examination. A nerve conduction test is used, when needed, to pinpoint the exact spot of the nerve injury.

When facial nerve palsy occurs, the baby should be monitored. Eyedrops and eye pads may be used to protect the eye. In some cases, the baby may need surgery to relieve the pressure on the nerve. And, in severe cases where the paralysis is permanent (the muscles are affected), the newborn will need specialized therapy.

In many cases, the condition improves after a few months, but every baby’s recovery may be different.

A clinical study

The Journal of Clinical Neonatology discusses another type of possible medical malpractice in a study titled “Unusual Birth Trauma Involving Face: A Completely Preventable Iatrogenic Injury.”

The study says that neonatal facial birth injuries are often associated with face presentations, “which occur in every 600 to 800 births at term gestation.” Iatrogenic means “associated with medical examination or treatment.” This study found that neonatal facial birth injuries are one of the most easily preventable injuries, and teaching institutions should have strict guidelines in place to avoid these injuries.

At Plattner Verderame P.C., our Phoenix birth injury lawyers work with doctors, obstetricians, and other healthcare professionals to properly asses your newborn’s injuries, what steps will be needed to maximize his/her health, and what complications may ensue.

We fight to get compensation for all necessary medical expenses, your baby’s pain and suffering, and the difficulties in life your child will have. To review your medical malpractice case, call us at 602.783.8793 or complete our contact form to schedule a free appointment.


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