Bell’s palsy is the most common type of facial paralysis in newborns, infants, and children. Infant Bell’s palsy occurs either before birth as a congenital abnormality or during the birth process because of a birth injury. The facial paralysis is often temporary but could be permanent in some children. If doctors diagnosed your newborn with infant Bell’s palsy, you should discuss your options with a medical malpractice attorney.
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Infant Bell’s Palsy Lawsuits and Injury Cases
If your child suffered facial paralysis caused by a birth injury, you may be eligible to pursue damages to cover their medical care, therapy and rehabilitation, out-of-pocket costs, emotional distress, pain and suffering, and more. An infant Bell’s palsy birth injury attorney in your state can help you:
- Identify all potentially liable parties, including the doctor and hospital.
- Build a strong case showing negligence.
- Identify a medical expert witness to testify to the accepted standard of care.
- Document your recoverable damages.
- Understand the deadlines that apply in your case.
Doctors and other medical care providers have a responsibility to ensure labor and delivery is as safe as possible for both the mother and the baby. They must follow certain protocols and adhere to an accepted standard of care. This includes identifying risks for complicated or difficult delivery and deciding to perform a cesarean section. They also have strict procedures they must follow during a difficult delivery, especially when using forceps or other tools.
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Infant Bell’s Palsy Overview
Infant Bell’s palsy occurs because of damage to the seventh cranial nerve. While this condition can be congenital, it is often the result of a birth injury. Bell’s palsy causes facial paralysis on one side of the face.
Infant Bell’s Palsy Causes
If the doctor applies too much pressure to the infant’s head and neck during a difficult delivery, nerve damage may occur. Some of the factors that increase the risk for this type of injury include:
- Long labor
- The use of epidural anesthesia during labor
- The use of Pitocin to induce strong contractions during labor
- Large babies, common in women with gestational diabetes or who are pregnant more than 40 weeks
- The use of forceps, vacuum, or another similar device during delivery.
It is important to note that Bell’s palsy may also be congenital or related to a viral infection before birth.
Infant Bell’s Palsy Symptoms
Infant Bell’s palsy causes weakness or paralysis on one side of the face. In newborns, you may notice the baby’s eye droops, and his mouth does not move symmetrically when he cries. He may also be unable to blink the affected eye.
Infant Bell’s Palsy Diagnosis and Treatment
Doctors can usually diagnose infant Bell’s palsy based on observation and by ruling out other causes of similar symptoms. They may want to run tests to check the newborn’s sensory perception, sight, and hearing.
While there is no one best treatment for infant Bell’s palsy, St. Louis Children’s Hospital, like many other facilities, recommends physical therapy for infant Bell’s palsy to stimulate the facial nerve. This is often paired with other treatments depending on the needs of the individual patient.
Most infants with Bell’s palsy recover fully within six months, but many require intensive eye care until fully recovered since they often cannot blink on their own. Infant Bell’s palsy can, however, result in permanent facial paralysis.
Infant Bell’s Palsy Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if my baby has infant Bell’s palsy?
In most cases, doctors diagnose serious cases of infant Bell’s palsy before the newborn leaves the hospital. In minor cases where the paralysis is not evident, you may notice that the sides of your baby’s mouth look different when they cry. They may open one side much wider than the other, or only move one side.
If you see this or other signs of facial paralysis in your newborn, reach out to your doctor for a diagnosis.
Can infant Bell’s palsy be fatal?
Infant Bell’s palsy is not fatal, but it requires prompt diagnosis and medical attention. This is primarily to protect the child’s vision if they cannot blink the affected eye.
Who is liable for infant Bell’s palsy?
If your infant acquired Bell’s palsy because of a birth injury or suffered lasting effects because of a delayed diagnosis, you may be able to hold the doctor who delivered him or the hospital where he was born liable.
What is the statute of limitations for infant Bell’s palsy?
When you discuss your case with an infant Bell’s palsy birth injury attorney from your state, they can explain the deadlines that will apply that dictate when you need to take legal action. Each state has its own statute of limitations, period for tolling (suspending) that deadline when the victim is a minor, and statute of repose, which is an absolute deadline for when you must file a lawsuit.
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Infant Bell’s Palsy Glossary Terms
- What are vesicles? Vesicles are tiny blisters that develop in the ears or mouth of patients with Ramsey Hunt syndrome. This condition is often confused with Bell’s palsy because they cause similar facial paralysis.
- What is microtia? Microtia is a congenital deformity of the external ear. Underdevelopment of the ear is an anomaly associated with congenital Bell’s palsy.
- What are nasolabial folds? The nasolabial folds are the two skin folds on each side of the mouth that run to the nose, separating the cheeks from the lips. These folds often flatten in babies with Bell’s palsy.
Talk to a Bell’s Palsy Birth Injury Attorney in Your State
At the Birth Injury Lawyers Group, our attorneys can help you understand if you have a case against the doctor or hospital and can take legal action on your behalf. Call 1-800-222-9529 now to connect with an attorney in your state.