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Fractured clavicle in the newborn

A fractured clavicle in the newborn is a broken collar bone in a baby that was just delivered.

Alternative Names

Fractured collar bone - newborn

Causes

A fracture of a newborn's collar bone (clavicle) can occur during a difficult vaginal delivery.

Symptoms

The baby will not move the painful, injured arm. Instead, the baby will hold it still against the side of the body. Lifting the baby under the arms causes the child pain. Sometimes the fracture can be felt with the fingers, but usually the problem cannot be seen or felt.

Within a few weeks, a hard lump may develop where the bone is healing. This lump may be the only sign that the newborn had a broken collar bone.

Exams and Tests

A chest x-ray will show whether or not there is a broken bone.

Treatment

Generally, there is no treatment other than lifting the child gently to prevent discomfort. Occasionally, the arm on the affected side may be immobilized, most often by simply pinning the sleeve to the clothes.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Full recovery occurs without treatment.

Possible Complications

There are usually no complications. Because infants heal well, it may be impossible (even by x-ray) to tell that a fracture occurred.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call for an appointment with your health care provider if your baby acts uncomfortable when you lift him or her.

References

Carlo WA. Delivery room emergencies. In: Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St. Geme JW III, et al., eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 94.

White KK, Goldberg MJ. Common neonatal orthopedic ailments. In: Gleason CA, Devaskar SU, eds. Avery’s Diseases of the Newborn. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 96.

Updated: 8/22/2013

Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.


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