Facial Nerve Palsy Caused by Birth Trauma

Merriam-Webster defines “palsy” as paralysis. In the field of medicine, there are different types of palsy, such as Bell’s palsy, cerebral palsy, Erb’s palsy, shaking palsy (Parkinson’s disease), and facial nerve palsy caused by birth trauma.

What is facial nerve palsy and how is it caused by birth trauma? This refers to a type of facial paralysis that is directly caused by birth trauma; it affects the nerves in the infant’s face. Essentially, the birth trauma damages the infant’s facial nerves, causing the infant to lose voluntary muscle movement in his or her face. This is caused by excess pressure on the facial nerve during labor or delivery.

Another name for an infant’s facial nerve is the “seventh cranial nerve.” When an infant suffers facial nerve palsy, it means this nerve was damaged before or during delivery. “But what causes this to happen to an infant during delivery?” Sometimes, the exact cause is unknown; however, the medical community does know that a difficult delivery and the use of forceps can cause this condition.

Which factors can cause birth trauma?

  • A long labor
  • The mother has a small pelvis
  • Epidural anesthesia
  • A large baby (especially when the mother has diabetes)
  • Use of Pitocin to induce labor or enhance contractions

Birth trauma as it pertains to facial palsy specifically refers to when a child’s facial nerve is injured while a child is being delivered. It is NOT the same as congenital facial palsy, which refers to facial palsy that is linked to “developmental anomalies in the growth and development of the child during pregnancy,” according to facialpalsy.org.uk.

In most cases, facial palsy due to birth trauma recovers within a few months. Because it may heal over time (but not always), parents are often guided to take a “wait and see approach.” Sometimes, the condition will require treatment, such as physiotherapy and surgery. In serious cases though, the facial paralysis may be permanent, leading to disfigurement and a decreased quality of life.

Facial Palsy Due to Medical Malpractice

Has your child’s facial nerve suffered damage (a birth injury) due to the negligent actions of medical personnel? If so, you may have grounds to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. We urge you to contact our firm to meet with a Columbia personal injury attorney for free.

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