Facial paralysis injuries at birth, also referred to as facial nerve palsy, are believed to be caused by trauma due to pressure on the facial nerve or seventh cranial nerve at the stylomastoid foramen, or that bone that lies over a portion of the facial canal. According to the website of Massachusetts personal injury attorneys Crowe & Mulvey, LLP, it is speculated that use of forceps in the delivery may be a contributory factor to such injuries at birth.
Facial paralysis due to forceps-based injuries at birth is thought to occur in nearly 9 out of 1,000 forceps deliveries. Other probable causes may be as a side-effect of epidural anesthesia, labor-inducing medications, large baby size or prolonged labor.
Facial nerve palsy may present as difficulty in eye closure on one side, skewing of the face or uneven movement of the mouth when crying, or lack of voluntary movement on one side of the face. There is no direct evidence that forceps deliver is the primary cause of facial injuries at birth, but in two-thirds of facial paralysis at birth, forceps had been used to assist a difficult birth or prolonged labor. It is believed that the curved ends of the forceps may have impinged on the facial nerves. The use of forceps is not recommended because of the many problems associated with it.
Facial nerve palsy is often a temporary condition, resolving after a few days to a few months without treatment. In some cases, however, the damage is more extensive and may require rehabilitation. For more severe cases, the effects are permanent and without known treatment. Children who suffer from severe facial nerve palsy due to injuries at birth are likely to have physical, emotional and psychological difficulties later on.
Injuries at birth such as facial nerve palsy may be due to medical errors during delivery, and may be a solid basis for a birth injury claim. Consult with a well-established personal injury lawyer if you or someone close to you has a child diagnosed with long-term facial nerve palsy.