Although rare, Bell’s palsy can cause permanent damage. It depends on how damaged the facial nerve is and the symptoms and signs that follow. When you are giving birth, there are two main reasons your newborn may have sustained an injury to their facial nerve. They may have received pressure on the nerve by having their head pushed against your pelvic bone, or your doctor may have performed a forceps delivery to assist your baby through the birthing canal.
A forceps delivery can be successful, but if an injury occurs because of the use of this method, it may signify that it was not done properly. Bell’s palsy can be prevented. It is important to know this, especially if your child may be living with facial paralysis.
Moreover, the primary damage to the facial nerve in pregnancy is the fact that it is not getting enough oxygen to the brain. The less oxygen it gets, the worse the condition might be. Symptoms may not show up for a couple of days and may continue to get worse up to three days. From there, you may see signs of improvement, and your child may fully recover in a few months. According to the Cleveland Clinic, 80% of people fully recover from Bell’s palsy within three months.
During this time, your doctor may diagnose Bell’s palsy and give it a grade based on the House-Brackmann Facial Paralysis Scale, which is labeled as:
- Grade 1: no clear signs or symptoms
- Grade 2: mild symptoms and signs that may only be visible with movement
- Grade 3: slight droopy appearance is visible, even at rest
- Grade 4: signs and symptoms are obvious with eye unable to close
- Grade 5: signs and symptoms are severe, disabling the face from moving
- Grade 6: complete paralysis
The prognosis of Bell’s palsy is favorable with lower grades, such as 1-3; however, any severe diagnosis can cause complications for years to come.
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Complications That Ensue From Bell’s Palsy
It is important to understand that even if your child is diagnosed with a low-grade condition, you may still have to be proactive in the treatment or management of their condition so that their complications do not worsen. This condition is especially true if your child has a hard time closing their eye. You may have to administer eye drops to keep the eye moist and safe from scratches or infection.
Other complications that arise from Bell’s palsy may include:
- Loss of taste
- Impaired hearing
- Dry mouth
- Excessive tearing
- Facial pain
- Dry eyes
If some of these complications are not properly treated or managed, further complications can come about that may be more dangerous to your child’s health. All of these can reduce your child’s quality of life, so it is important to understand these complications, how they are affecting your child, and how you can help your child live through it.
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Dealing With Permanent Facial Paralysis
Living with facial paralysis is more complicated than just having distorted facial features. Considering the complications that come with it, the quality of life can be drastically devastating, and there can be a variety of health issues.
A serious concern is your child’s ability to develop normally. Keep in mind that your child may have a speech problem. Communication may also be an issue because your child may have trouble hearing and talking. As your child grows older, low self-esteem may come into play and affect your child’s mental and emotional development. Additionally, this can change the dynamic of your family and create a struggle, as well. Not all hope is lost, though. There are treatments, management plans, and coping mechanisms that may help.
Before you move forward with a treatment or management plan, you may want to discuss it with your doctor, especially if it is invasive. There is a surgical procedure that can fix the damaged nerve, but it is controversial and may cause more damage than good. Likewise, there are a few things you can do to protect the eye if your child cannot close it, such as administering eye drops, wearing a patch, or sewing the eyelid shut. When it comes to your child’s development, a speech therapist and special needs services may be used along with counseling for your child and family.
When a Birth Injury Is the Cause of Bell’s Palsy
If Bell’s palsy has caused permanent damage to your child, you may be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit to seek compensation. Have an attorney at the Birth Injury Lawyers Group to review your case and discuss your legal options: (800) 222-9529.