Bell’s palsy and other types of newborn facial paralysis usually result from either delivery trauma or a problem that occurred during fetal development. According to a 2015 article published in the World Journal of Clinical Cases, trauma just before, during, or immediately after delivery is the most common cause of facial paralysis in newborns.
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Delivery Trauma and Bell’s Palsy
During a difficult delivery, the doctor may need to take certain steps to help the baby move down the birth canal. This may include using techniques to turn the baby if their shoulder gets stuck or using a vacuum extraction device to pull the baby out.
When used carefully, at the correct time, and using the correct technique, these procedures are relatively safe. However, when the doctor acts carelessly or without regard to the safety of their patients, injuries can result.
The improper use of forceps can cause Bell’s palsy during birth. Their use to deliver the baby significantly increases the risk of Bell’s palsy and other facial paralysis, while injuries to the nerves in the neck and shoulder occur because of tugging too hard or at an awkward angle.
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Risk Factors for Birth Injuries and Bell’s Palsy
When a doctor monitors a pregnancy and labor, they should look for risk factors that the delivery could be difficult. If there are several of these risk factors in place, then they may want to consider other options for delivery. Even a Caesarean section (C-section) can cause Bell’s palsy during birth. Doctors must carefully weigh this against other, more serious risks to decide what is best for their patients.
Other risk factors your doctor should have monitored include:
- If it is your first child (primiparity)
- If the infant’s birth weight will be greater than 3,500 grams, or around eight pounds
- If the use of forceps may be necessary
- If the infant is premature
- If there is a need for a cesarean delivery
Other Possible Causes of Congenital Bell’s Palsy
While birth trauma is more common, other factors can cause Bell’s palsy during birth. Some of these conditions may be apparent before birth, diagnosed during prenatal checks of the developing baby. They include:
- Möbius syndrome
- Goldenhar syndrome
- Arnold-Chiari syndrome
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Prognosis of Newborns Diagnosed With Bell’s Palsy
In most cases of perinatal Bell’s Palsy, the infant recovers fully within a few months. Overall, the prognosis for most children is very good. However, some children never regain the full functionality of their seventh cranial nerve, leaving them with symptoms for the rest of their lives.
Therapy and surgery may help in some cases, but it is important to get treatment as soon as possible if your infant is not recovering in the first few months after birth.
Birth Injury Lawsuits
In some cases, a Bell’s palsy diagnosis may support a birth injury lawsuit. If your child suffered a preventable delivery trauma and now has symptoms of Bell’s Palsy, you may be eligible to file a claim against the doctor or hospital. You can pursue compensation for your child’s medical care and any related losses and expenses, as well as pain and suffering damages.
You should talk to an attorney who handles birth injury cases in your state and is familiar with how the state laws apply to this type of case. Most birth injury attorneys will review your case for free, and you will pay nothing out of pocket. They only collect legal fees after recovering a payout for your family.
In addition, it is important to talk to a local attorney because each state has its own statute of limitations and deadlines that apply in birth injury cases. Only a lawyer who works in your state will know how long you have to take legal action.
Talk to a Birth Injury Attorney Near You About Your Case
If your child was born with Bell’s palsy or another type of facial paralysis caused by nerve damage during birth, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit and hold the doctor or hospital accountable. You could collect compensation on your child’s behalf.
Reach out to the Birth Injury Lawyers Group today and take the first step. You will be able to discuss your case with one of the team members and will be helped with finding a lawyer in your state. This attorney will take on your case and represent your child’s best interests throughout the process.
Call today at (800) 222-9529 to talk to a member of the team about your options.