Neonatal Facial Paralysis

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Facial paralysis as a birth injury, often referred to as neonatal facial palsy, can occur during childbirth. This condition may result from trauma or pressure on the facial nerve just before or at the time of birth.


The primary symptom is the inability to move the muscles on one side of the face. Affected infants may not be able to close their eye on the affected side, and their mouth might droop. This asymmetry is especially noticeable when the baby cries.

The symptoms of facial paralysis require careful monitoring to manage any immediate risks, particularly to the eye, and to assess the need for interventions like physical therapy, which may help improve muscle function and facial symmetry over time.

When is Someone Liable?

Facial paralysis as a birth injury can sometimes result from medical negligence. While many cases are naturally occurring due to the complexities of childbirth, there are scenarios where improper medical practices contribute to the injury.

Some ways in which medical negligence might lead to facial paralysis in a newborn include:

  • Improper Use of Delivery Instruments: The use of instruments like forceps or vacuum extractors can be necessary in difficult deliveries. However, incorrect or excessive use of these tools can exert too much force on a baby’s head and face, potentially damaging the facial nerve.
  • Failure to Manage a Difficult Delivery Appropriately: Medical professionals are trained to recognize and manage complicated labor scenarios, such as breech presentations or prolonged labor, which increase the risk of birth injuries. Negligence may arise if the medical team fails to take appropriate action in response to these complications, such as deciding when a cesarean section is necessary.
  • Lack of Adequate Monitoring: During labor and delivery, continuous monitoring of the baby’s heart rate and mother’s condition is crucial. Negligence in monitoring can lead to missing signs of fetal distress or other issues that necessitate immediate medical intervention to prevent injury.
  • Inadequate Training or Experience: Sometimes, the medical personnel involved may not be sufficiently trained or experienced in delivering babies safely, especially in high-risk or complicated deliveries. This lack of expertise can lead to mistakes that result in injuries like facial paralysis.
  • Failure to Follow Guidelines and Protocols: There are established medical guidelines and protocols designed to minimize the risk of birth injuries. Deviations from these protocols, whether in the use of delivery instruments or in the decision-making process during a complicated delivery, can be considered negligence.

When facial paralysis in a newborn is suspected to be linked to medical negligence, it often requires a detailed review of the delivery records, expert testimony in neonatal care, and an understanding of the standard medical practices for managing labor and delivery. Families affected by such circumstances may seek legal consultation to understand their rights and possible actions to address the medical negligence.

Get in Touch with Gray and White Today

If your baby has been impacted by facial paralysis as a result of medical negligence, reach out to Gray and White today. Call (502) 210-8942 or fill out our online form to request a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.