When people are deciphering what other people are saying, they utilize many other clues besides the words themselves. We judge tone of voice as well as facial expression in order to fully analyze others' feelings and to better understand their true meaning. For parents of babies, facial expression is a large part of determining how the child feels because a baby cannot exactly tell you how they feel. Thus, when a baby suffers from facial nerve damage, it can be frustrating as well as tragic.
The passage through the birth canal is a very tight squeeze. While the bodies of both a mother and baby are engineered to successfully complete the process, there are sometimes complications that can arise which result in extreme pressure in the birth canal. This can damage the baby's nerves, such as with brachial plexus palsies, which limit the baby's ability to control arm movement and have arm feeling.
The nerve system that controls facial movement is called the seventh cranial nerve. Although it originates deep inside the brain, it comes out to the side of the face in order to stretch around and control the various muscles of the face. It can suffer from damage with brain trauma or with direct trauma to the nerve.
Although some cases of facial paralysis can develop while the baby is still in the womb, birth trauma is also a source of facial nerve damage. There are several things that can cause this trauma. First, when a baby is slightly too large for the birth canal, it can compress important nerves that control facial movement. This condition is called cephalopelvic disproportion, or CPD. CPD can occur when a baby is too large, called macrosomia, or when a mother's pelvis is too narrow. This can happen due to injury or physical abnormalities of pelvic structure.
In some cases, instruments such as vacuums and forceps that are sometimes used during birth can put too much pressure on the nerves, which can stretch or compress them irreparably. Vacuums and forceps are often used during prolonged labors in order to speed up the process. While these can be very useful tools, they can also cause this type of damage if they are wielded with too much force or not enough expertise.
If you suspect that your baby has facial paralysis, you may notice that one side of his or her face does not move in accordance with the other side. Also, you may see a droopy corner of the mouth or an uneven facial expression. The eyelid on the affected side may not close, or you may see total facial paralysis.
Doctors should treat your baby with care so that he or she does not end up with permanent nerve damage which can inhibit your child from moving his or her face. If your baby has sustained nerve damage due to doctor negligence, you should contact a birth injury attorney from Lowenthal & Abrams, PC ., Today.
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