Infant skull fracture treatments depend on the type of fracture, its severity, and whether or not it is causing or expected to cause any brain damage. Infants injured during birth may end up with a skull fracture from natural pressure during delivery, from complications of delivery, or from a mistake, such as excessive force in the use of instruments, made by a doctor or midwife.
There are many potential complications that may result from a skull fracture, but for some babies the damage will be minimal and no treatment will be needed. Those with more moderate and severe fractures along with complications may need treatments such as surgery, medications, physical therapy, and various types of rehabilitation and therapy. These treatment needs may continue over the long-term if the fracture causes a disability.
How Infant Skull Fractures Happen
Infant skull fractures that occur during birth are more common than many parents realize. They can happen simply from the pressure of being in the womb and squeezing through the birth canal during delivery. While the infant skull is flexible and can usually withstand these pressures, sometimes a fracture happens. It is more likely if the baby is a large size, presents in difficult position like breech, or if labor is long and difficult.
Although a fracture may occur naturally, the most common cause is actually the use of instruments. The force that forceps and vacuum extractors place on the infant skull can be enough to fracture it. If a doctor uses too much force or fails to detect complications and does not perform a preventative Cesarean section, the fracture and the resulting damage from it can be considered medical malpractice.
Treatment for Linear Skull Fractures
There are three different types of skull fractures that an infant can suffer during and after delivery. The most common, simplest, and least likely to cause complications and symptoms is a linear fracture. This is a simple line break that is not severe enough to cause the plates of the skull to move past each other or to lift up or down. In most cases of a linear skull fracture in an infant, no treatment is needed. The fracture and any damage it caused to the brain will heal in time.
With a more severe linear fracture, treatment may be necessary depending on the impact the fracture has on the brain. If it has caused bleeding, known as a hematoma or hemorrhage, surgical treatment may be required. Some amount of bleeding will heal naturally, but if there are symptoms or the bleeding is more serious, surgery to drain it and relieve pressure on the brain may be necessary.
Depressed Skull Fracture Treatment
A depressed skull fracture is typically more serious than a linear fracture. This occurs when the skull is sunken in toward the brain. This has a greater potential to cause bleeding, to put pressure on the brain, and to injure the brain or cause lasting brain damage. It is possible that there will be a small, mild depressed fracture that heals on its own and smooths out over time with no treatment necessary. Sometimes this type of fracture results in seizures, in which case medication to prevent or reduce their incidence may be necessary.
For a more serious depressed fracture, surgery may be a treatment option. This may be especially necessary if the fracture is open and if the depressed part of the skull is five millimeters or more deep. If the fracture occurs over a sinus, it may damage it and that requires more extensive surgery. The surgery is needed both to elevate the fracture and to repair the damaged sinus. If a depressed fracture causes fragments of bone to penetrate the outer layer of the meninges, the membrane that covers the brain, emergency surgery may be required.
Treatment for Diastatic Fractures
The infant skull is different from the adult skull. It is made up of multiple plates held to together by sutures. The sutures expand as the brain grows and eventually harden. A diastatic fracture is one that occurs along one of these sutures. This can be problematic as the child grows as it can expand with the growth of the brain, at which point it is called a grow or growing skull fracture.
A growing skull fracture is a rare but serious complication that can occur in infants as they grow older. It usually develops within a few months of the original fracture. It can cause seizures, pressure on the brain, neurological complications, and damage to the meninges and brain. It is important that an infant with a diastatic fracture are monitored for a growing fracture. If one does develop, it must be corrected surgically, closing the gap in the meninges. The fracture in the skull is not likely to be surgically sealed, however, as the child’s brain still needs to grow and expand.
Long-Term Treatment for Disabilities
Skull fractures may cause long-term symptoms and disabilities in children depending on the severity and whether it was treated immediately. The kind of damage that a skull fracture may cause includes brain damage, and that type of harm to the brain can lead to a number of symptoms and types of disabilities, from cognitive, developmental, and behavioral disabilities to physical impairments and even paralysis.
Treatment for these is varied and depends on the type and severity of the disability. Physical therapy, occupational therapy, medications, surgeries, speech and language therapy, educational interventions, home care, assistive devices, even living in a residential facility, are all possibly necessary for a child with lasting brain damage from a skull fracture.
Compensation to Cover Infant Skull Fracture Treatment
Infant skull fracture treatment may be a one-time surgery or it may involve years of care and support. It all depends on the severity of the fracture and how it affects the brain. A family with a brain-damaged child could be facing the costs of institutionalized care, home care, therapy, medications, travel, and doctor’s appointments for decades.
If you think that the damage caused to your child in this situation was the fault of someone who was responsible for your care and your child’s care, you may be able to sue to get a settlement.
Medical malpractice is very serious and if your doctor or other caregiver made a mistake that caused your child so much harm, you are entitled to seek justice. A birth injury lawyer can help you you’re your case and prove that your child’s injury was not simply an accident. With the compensation you can get from a lawsuit you can focus more on your child’s care and providing the best care, and less time worrying about how you will pay for treatment.