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Common birth injuries and their treatments

You obviously want your baby to arrive in this world without experiencing any kind of trauma that is not natural and expected. Unfortunately, birth injuries are not unusual for newborns. The good news is that babies are resilient. They are fast healers, and parents can often expect a full recovery from most birth injuries that involve fractures or nerve damage.

However, some birth injuries occur needlessly and can be permanent. The accompanying health issues could last a lifetime, along with the expense involved. Here are some injuries that are among the most common during childbirth.

Nerve damage

Located just beneath the collarbone, or clavicle, the brachial plexus is a group of nerves that runs from the neck down the arm. The nerves can be damaged if the doctor pulls or twists the head of the baby during delivery, and it stretches or tears those tissues. The damaged nerves normally heal in time; if they do not, the doctor might recommend surgery.

Fractures

Swelling at one end of a long bone in baby’s arm or leg may indicate a growth plate fracture. The original injury may not show up on an x-ray, but signs of healing may appear on subsequent x-rays as soon as a week after birth. Full healing will take a few weeks, but in the meantime, treatment usually only involves protecting the affected area.

A doctor typically addresses a clavicle fracture by strapping baby’s arm to his or her chest. This treatment will probably only be necessary for a few weeks.

A less common orthopedic issue is a broken femur: The baby will exhibit pain when moved. Treatment is often a Pavlik harness, which stabilizes the hips and keeps them in place while it heals, usually for about four weeks. 

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