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Facial Nerve Palsy May Be Caused by Birth Trauma

The birth of your child is the happiest day in a parent’s life, unless there is a problem. While most births happen without any complications, sometimes a mistake occurs that can cause a birth injury. Facial nerve palsy is one type of injury that can happen during the birth of a newborn. Facial nerve palsy is the loss of voluntary muscle control of the face. While it can be serious, the condition often goes away over time. The injury is caused by pressure put on the baby’s seventh cranial nerve during birth.

Seventh Cranial Nerve Damage

The seventh cranial nerve is located in the face or neck area. In infants, this nerve can be more easily damaged. Damage may occur when forceps are used to assist in extracting the baby. Some factors that could increase the likelihood of facial nerve palsy include a large birth weight baby, long labor, the use of an epidural, and the use of medication to hasten labor. These situations could make the birth more difficult and create a need for medical intervention during delivery. This could increase the possibility of a birth injury.

Diagnosis

Facial nerve palsy can usually be detected simply through observation of the infant. The problem usually occurs on one side of the face. The eyelid on one side may seem droopy. The lower face of one side may look dissimilar to the other side. The mouth may move differently on one side or may not seem to move at all. In some severe cases, the entire side of the face is paralyzed, allowing for no movement. In cases where the problem is minor, further testing may be required that will indicate the exact location of the injury.

Treating Infants with Facial Nerve Palsy

Seventh cranial nerve damage most frequently goes away on its own after a few months. The condition must be closely monitored to determine whether there is improvement. The child may require special therapy. In a very small number of cases, the paralysis is permanent and the baby will not recover. These children will face ongoing treatment and therapy including possible assistance with eating and speaking. In some newborns, the condition is not immediately noticed. Parents should be aware of any symptoms and seek medical attention if there is a problem.

Birth Injury Lawsuit

When a child is injured at birth it can be devastating. Instead of bringing home a healthy newborn the parents are facing a long road of recovery including expensive medical costs. Many birth injuries are the result of medical malpractice and could have been prevented. In cases such as this, the doctor must be prepared with the correct procedures to assist with the birth and the mother may require a c-section rather than trying to give birth vaginally. When a birth injury occurs the parents are entitled to seek compensation to cover the damages caused by the negligence. This may include medical costs, therapy, money for pain and suffering, and if the injury is permanent, money for loss of a normal life. If your infant was the victim of a birth injury contact the compassionate attorneys at Levin & Perconti for a consultation.

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