Infant skull fractures are the most serious of birth injuries, and they are the top cause of not only disabilities but also death, in children. If your child suffered a skull fracture in Illinois, make sure you contact an injury attorney today. Our team is ready to help you in your time of need.
Because a baby’s skull is still somewhat soft, it is often difficult to diagnose skull fractures, but they can cause severe damage, especially if they go undiagnosed.
An infant’s skull is made up of five separate pieces that have not yet fused together, a biological function that not only allows the baby’s head to travel through the birth canal despite its size but also allows for brain growth as the baby develops.
In addition to fibrous suture lines between the five pieces of skull bone, there are two areas known as fontanelles where sutures lines come together. The fontanelles are larger gaps between the plates of the skull that are in place to help make the skull more flexible, improving the ease of delivery. Eventually, the five pieces fuse together and the pieces of bone that make up the skull become harder and more protective of the brain.
How Do Skull Fractures Happen?
Most often the result of a difficult delivery, skull fractures are almost always caused by medical negligence.
The most common cause of infant skull fracture is when a baby that is either too large or too small for a normal delivery is not delivered by cesarean section. During a vaginal delivery, a baby can become stuck in the birth canal, which put him or her at a high risk of oxygen loss. In an effort to free the baby quickly, a doctor can pull to roughly or use assisted birthing devices such as forceps or a vacuum extract improperly, both of which can cause skull fractures.
For a large baby, the pressure of delivery can also cause fractures, especially if the infant is in an improper position, which makes delivery more difficult and the likelihood of pressing against the mother’s pelvic bone more likely.
Skull fractures can also be caused if someone on your health care team drops a baby or drops something on the baby’s head.
Types of Skull Fractures
Infant skull fractures can vary widely in severity, which depends on the type of skull fracture that occurs. There are several different types, including:
- Greenstick fractures. Greenstick fractures occur when the bone of the skull bends and cracks, but only in a portion of the bone. They are common in infants, because the bones are still soft and flexible.
- Linear skull fractures. When linear skull fractures occur, the bone breaks but doesn’t move. This minor facture usually requires no action aside from observation to ensure that the injury doesn’t become more severe.
- Depressed skull fractures. Depressed fractures cause the area of the skull where the injury occurred to sink, which can cause the bone to press against the brain, resulting in damage to that region of the brain. It usually requires surgery to correct the problem and reduce the risk of further brain damage.
- Diastatic skull fractures. The areas where the five pieces of bone that make up an infant’s skull come together are known as suture lines. When fracture occur along sutures, the lines widen, potentially leaving more brain at risk of injury. Injuries are especially high risk factors if the fracture isn’t diagnosed, and the growing brain presses through the enlarged suture line.
- Basilar skull fracture. A basilar skull fracture can occur at the base of the skull or around the eyes, nose or ears. It can potentially cause spinal fluid leaks.
In some cases, skull fractures are noticed during examinations after birth, but in others, skull fractures aren’t diagnosed until children begin to suffer seizures or miss important developmental milestones, which alerts parents that there is a problem.
Treatment for an Infant Skull Fracture
While some skull fractures will heal on their own, others can cause bleeding on the brain or spinal fluid leaks that can cause brain damage if not addressed.
In some cases, the brain can also swell, requiring doctors to remove the portion of the skull covering the swollen area and potentially part of the brain if damage is so extensive that it won’t recover.
Skull Fracture Risk Factors
Skull fractures can be extremely serious, leading to lasting brain damage.
Broken bones can trigger bleeding on the brain, which can put pressure on the parts of the brain where the bleeding occurs, causing damage to individual brain cells.
Other potential problems include:
- Neurological disorders, including cerebral palsy or seizure disorders.
- A higher risk for infections, including the serious brain infection meningitis, which can be deadly.
- Impaired motor function.
- Brain death.
Because skull fractures are always preventable, if your child’s injuries are severe, it’s important to contact an experienced birth injury attorney to go over your options.
The right attorney can help you determine what caused your child’s injuries, and help you recover compensation to help you cover the costs associated with them. If your child suffered a skull fracture in Chicago or Illinois, contact our team today to see if we can help.