Symptoms Of Fractured Clavicle In Newborn: Causes & Treatment

Fracture of the clavicle or the collar bone is a rather common injury suffered by newborns at birth. In case of a broken collarbone, the baby will have immense pain and will cry when you pick her up under her arms. There will be swelling around the area, and you will see bruising or a bump where the clavicle has cracked.

The newborn will be very fussy and cranky and will cry with every movement of the afflicted arm.  In case the fracture has caused trauma to the nerves in the arm, the baby will not be capable of moving the arm at all, and it will droop limply at the side.  The shoulder that is affected will appear a little lower than the healthy shoulder.

In about 7 days, a lump will form at the site where the bone is healing. At times, this lump is the only indication of a clavicle fracture in a baby.

What Causes Clavicle Fracture In Newborns?

A clavicle fracture is a breach in the collar bone and invariably occurs as a consequence to a difficult delivery or because of some trauma at birth.

Factors which are known to increase the risk for collarbone fracture are – the baby is too big, a narrow birth canal, his shoulder may have got stuck during delivery, or if the doctor uses some equipment to aid with the birthing.

When fracture of the clavicle is assumed, your doctor will ask for an x-ray or an ultrasound to verify.

Treatment For Fractured Clavicle In Newborn

  • The most important complication that has been linked to fractured clavicle at birth is the incapacity to move the arm because there has been some trauma to the brachial plexus.  The brachial plexus is in close proximity to the collarbone and tends to get damaged by the fracture.  Research shows that about 1 out of 11 newborns who have a collarbone fracture at birth have impairment to the brachial plexus, which results in them not being able to move the arm until the nerves heal.
  • In most cases, a fractured collarbone in newborns heals fairly quickly without any problems.  By and large, no treatment is necessary; on the other hand, parents are instructed to pin the child’s sleeve of the afflicted side to the front of their clothing so as to make sure the arm does not move whilst it heals.
  • Your pediatrician will examine the baby to ascertain the extent of nerves or blood vessels damage due to the fracture.
  • In general, a broken clavicle heals just fine without any surgical intervention, although the arm must be immobilized on the side of the break to facilitate rapid healing.
  • Your doctor will advise using a sling or a figure-of-eight brace, which pulls the shoulders of the baby back and holds everything in the correct position for healing.
  • Your pediatrician will teach you the optimal way of lifting and positioning your baby to keep him from hurting himself until completely healed. He may recommend giving the child an analgesic to allay the pain. Also, applying an ice pack for the first two days, for 15 minutes at a time every 3 to 4 hours through the day is advised to help decrease the swelling.