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Labor and Delivery Fractures

Ohio Birth Trauma and Labor and Delivery Fracture Lawyers

Labor and delivery fractures during labor and delivery are sometimes the result of medical negligence or medical error. These birth injuries can be catastrophic. Although fractures can occur with any bone, skull fractures—including depressed skull fractures, linear skull fractures and occipital osteodiastasis—as well as clavicle fractures, fractures of the collarbone, are the most common during the during the birthing process. If your child suffered a bone fracture during labor and deliver, our Columbus OH based birth trauma attorneys may be able to help.

Fracture of the clavicle

The clavicle—or collarbone—is either one of the two bones connecting the shoulder blades with the upper part of the breastbone. The clavicle may break when there is difficulty delivering the baby’s shoulder or during a breech delivery.

This injury is noticeable because a baby with a fractured clavicle rarely moves the arm on the side of the break. Instead, the baby will hold her arm against the side of her body. Lifting the baby under his arms causes the child pain.

Healing of a fractured collarbone occurs quickly. As the new bone forms, a firm lump on the clavicle often develops in less than two weeks. If the fracture is painful, limiting movement of the arm and shoulder with a soft bandage or splint may be helpful. If the bone heals in the wrong position, the baby can suffer permanent injury.

Fracture of the skull

A cranial fracture—or skull fracture—occurs when a baby’s skull is broken due to the forces of delivery. This can result for one or more reasons:

  • Pressure exerted on the baby’s head as it passes through the birth canal
  • Injury caused by forceps used during delivery
  • Forces from the mother’s pelvic bony structures squeeze the skull
  • Damage caused by vacuum extractors used in the delivery process

The signs and symptoms of skull fracture include respiratory distress, seizures, swelling of the scalp, apnea/bradycardia—a pause in the regular breathing of a baby lasting longer than 15-20 seconds, hypothermia, malformation of the fontanelle—or the “soft spot” on the skull.

There are three types of skull fractures: depressed, linear and occipital osteodiastasis.

Depressed Skull Fracture

A depressed skull fracture is caused by an inward buckling of the calvarial bones—the bones that make up what is commonly called the “skullcap.” During the process, the skullcap is crushed inward, toward the brain, forming a depression. These injuries are sometimes called “spontaneous” or “instrument associated” skull fractures.

Infants that suffered a depressed skull fracture should undergo a CT scan to determine whether the injury has caused intracranial hemorrhage. Surgical treatment is often recommended to correct this injury.

Linear Skull Fracture

A linear skull fracture is a non-depressed fracture that is most commonly located in the parietal region of the brain. This can result from medical negligence. A linear skull fracture is often accompanied by swelling of the brain which, if it goes undetected, can lead to serious complications.

A linear skull fracture is often caused by a delivery instrument such as a vacuum. The infant should undergo a CT to rule out epidural hematoma—a blood clot or clots.

With proper care, healing should occur within four to six weeks. Careful monitoring is necessary to insure that a cyst has not developed.

Occipital Osteodiastasis

Occipital osteodiastasis (OOD) is a rare condition that can sometimes be the result of medical error. When caused by medical negligence, there has usually been excessive pressure exerted during delivery.

Occipital Osteodiastasis is a prominent traumatic lesion that occurs during delivery. The condition can be accompanied by subdural hemorrhaging—or bleeding in the brain—and laceration of the cerebellum.

Infants with severe OOD have many complications. The condition can result in neurological deficits and abnormal psychomotor development.

Clark, Perdue & List

If your baby experienced a fracture during delivery, contact our personal injury law firm to find out if we can help.


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