Posted in News on November 21, 2014
Facial palsy is a condition that affects infants wherein the baby loses control over his or her facial muscles. This ailment is usually associated with birth trauma or birth injury, and is believed to be caused when excessive pressure is applied to a certain nerve that resides in the infant’s facial area just prior to or during child birth.
The nerve which, when damaged, causes this affliction is called the seventh cranial nerve. Typically, when a recently born infant is diagnosed with facial palsy the cause is not easily identifiable. It is possible that the improper use of forceps, a medical instrument, can be a factor. However, the risk rises when a mother goes through a difficult delivery regardless of whether forceps are used.
Some factors that have been identified that may increase the risk of facial palsy include going through an especially long pregnancy or prolonged labor. Also, using epidural anesthesia during child birth or medically inducing labor via medication, which can lead to stronger than normal contractions, may also be factors. However, it should be noted that, most of the time, these conditions do not necessarily lead to facial nerve palsy.
Facial palsy will often affect the muscles in the lip area of the infant’s face and is usually visibly identifiable when the infant starts to cry. Another sign to look for that may signal onset of facial palsy is the baby having difficulty with closing either of its eyelids. The infant’s face, specifically the area below the eyes, is uneven when the baby is crying. Finally, in its most severe form, the infant will experience complete paralysis on the side that is affected.
Facial palsy can be diagnosed by administering a physical exam, and though permanent paralysis is a possibility, the condition usually disappears in a few months after birth. Any family which believes that their child suffered harm during the birth process may be entitled to compensation for injuries to the child, and may want to consult with a medical malpractice attorney on the specifics of one’s case.
Source: U.S. National Library of Medicine, “Facial nerve palsy due to birth trauma,” Medline Plus, Accessed November 18, 2014