Birth Trauma and Facial Nerve Palsy May Be Due to Negligence
Facial Nerve Palsy is a clinical syndrome in which the cranial nerve VII, the muscle that controls facial movement, loses its function. It results in the loss of function of voluntary muscle movement. Most facial nerve palsy cases are idiopathic, which means their causes remain unknown. However, usual causes include metabolic disorders, birth trauma, or certain infections.
Several factors affect the risk of damage and severity of facial nerve palsy. The risk of facial nerve palsy and other birth trauma injuries can increase due to the following factors:
- Post-term pregnancy, or pregnancy that exceeds 42 weeks
- Macrosomia or a baby too large for his/her gestational age
- Prolonged labor
- Prolonged delivery
- Cephalopelvic disproportion (CPD)
- Abnormal Fetal Presentation
- Inducing labor with medication
- Epidural Anesthesia
- Primiparity or first time to give birth
Signs of Facial Nerve Palsy on Newborn Babies
Facial nerve palsy on infants affects the nerve on the lower part of the face. This can often be observed when the newborn cries and the face does not move in a symmetrical manner. If the mouth or eye of a baby does not move on both sides of the face when crying, then it may be a facial nerve palsy.
Mothers may have difficulty nursing a newborn infant with facial nerve palsy. Although infants with facial nerve palsy can recover on their own within six months, there are some cases when they persist longer and need medical attention.
Moreover, there are other complications related to facial nerve palsy, such as:
- Chewing difficulty
- Other physical deformities
- Speech problems
- Problems with expressing emotion
Does Traumatic Birth Injury Cause Facial Nerve Palsy?
Facial nerve palsy could be developmental, congenital, or caused by birth trauma. It can be caused by forceps delivery, a necessary procedure for traumatic birth injury. What happens is that the blade of the forceps presses against the infant’s head, consequently hitting the area of the facial nerve.
Diagnosis of Newborn Facial Palsy
Newborn facial palsy can be immediately diagnosed through a physical exam and analysis of delivery history. Most of the time, infant facial nerve palsy is not severe and goes away on its own. In some cases, however, it can lead to more serious problems in the future, such as difficulty in talking, mastication, and expression of emotions. If the symptoms do not go away, parents should make an appointment with a doctor. Different electrodiagnostic examinations can be performed to know the extent or severity of the paralysis.
There are a several systems used to grade the severity of paralysis. The House Brackmann Scale is the most commonly used system to evaluate nerve function.
Management of Newborn Facial Palsy
As previously mentioned, facial nerve palsy in infants can go away on its own. But close monitoring is critical to know if the paralysis is permanent and severe. Medical interventions could be useful in some cases, including the following:
- Physical therapy
- Eyedrops and eye padding to address dryness on the eye
- Use of eye protection such as an eyepatch
- Speech Therapy
- Electromyography if there is no improvement in three months
- In severe cases of paralysis, muscle and nerve transplantation may be needed.
Medical Malpractice in Relation to Facial Nerve Palsy and Birth Trauma
Preventing birth trauma would be possible if medical practitioners monitor their patients thoroughly. During the birthing process, doctors need to be extra careful, especially in using forceps because excess pressure can damage the infant’s facial nerves and cause facial nerve palsy. In some cases, labor enhancing drugs that induce uterine contractions can also play a role in causing facial nerve palsy among infants.
If You Need a Birth Injury Lawyer, Contact The Clark Law Office.
If your gut tells you that medical malpractice took place, then it is necessary for you to take legal action. If your child or anyone you know has been affected by birth trauma due to negligence and medical malpractice, it’s best to speak with a birth injury lawyer.
The Clark Law Office has some of the best and most skilled birth injury lawyers who can help you get what you deserve for all the emotional and financial damage caused by birth trauma. Contact us today for a free legal consultation.