Can Babies Be Born with Broken Bones? Unveiling the Facts

can babies be born with broken bones

As a parent or caregiver, you may be concerned about the health and well-being of your newborn. One of the questions you may have is whether infants can be born with broken bones. The answer is yes, it is possible for babies to be born with fractures or sustain these injuries during the birthing process.

Infant bone fractures, also known as neonatal fractures, can occur due to a variety of reasons. These injuries can be the result of delivery complications, birth trauma, or certain medical conditions that affect bone strength. While these fractures are relatively rare, they can be a cause for concern and require prompt medical attention.

In this article, we will explore the topic of infant bone fractures in detail. We will discuss the causes, diagnosis, treatment options, and long-term outlook for infants with broken bones. By understanding these facts, you can better support your child’s health and well-being.

Key Takeaways:

  • Infants can be born with broken bones or sustain fractures during delivery.
  • Neonatal fractures can occur due to delivery complications, birth trauma, or certain medical conditions.
  • Infant bone fractures are relatively rare but require prompt medical attention.
  • Treatment options for infant bone fractures may include non-surgical or surgical approaches.
  • Preventive measures can be taken to reduce the occurrence of newborn fractures.

Understanding Neonatal Fractures

If you’re a parent, you may have heard of neonatal fractures, which refer to bone injuries sustained by infants during the birthing process. These injuries can be distressing, but it’s important to understand that they’re not uncommon. According to recent studies, neonatal fractures occur in approximately one to two percent of all live births.

Neonatal fractures are a type of birth bone injury that can occur during delivery. These injuries may result from physical trauma or stress on the infant’s bones during the birthing process. The most common sites for neonatal fractures include the clavicle (collarbone), humerus (upper arm bone), and femur (thigh bone).

Potential Causes of Neonatal Fractures

The causes of neonatal fractures can vary depending on the circumstances of the delivery. In some cases, fractures may occur due to the use of forceps or other assisted delivery techniques. Birth complications such as a prolonged or difficult labor can also increase the risk of neonatal fractures.

Infants born with low birth weight or who experience a precipitous delivery may also be more susceptible to neonatal fractures. In rare cases, congenital bone conditions may contribute to the development of fractures in newborns.

Symptoms of Neonatal Fractures

The symptoms of neonatal fractures may vary depending on the severity and location of the injury. In some cases, infants may exhibit signs of discomfort or pain, which can manifest as crying or irritability. Swelling or bruising may also be present at the site of the fracture.

However, it’s important to note that some neonatal fractures may not show visible symptoms at all. This is why it’s important for healthcare providers to conduct thorough examinations and imaging tests to identify any potential injuries.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Neonatal Fractures

Diagnosing neonatal fractures typically involves a physical examination and imaging tests, such as x-rays or ultrasound scans. In some cases, further tests may be required to rule out underlying conditions or to determine the nature of the fracture.

The treatment of neonatal fractures may vary depending on the severity and location of the injury. In some cases, immobilization or splinting of the affected limb may be sufficient to promote healing. However, more severe cases may require surgery or more involved interventions.

Prevention of Neonatal Fractures

Preventing neonatal fractures can be challenging, as some injuries may occur despite best efforts to promote a safe and healthy delivery. However, there are certain steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of these injuries, such as avoiding unnecessary interventions during labor and delivery and ensuring that healthcare providers are skilled in using assisted delivery techniques safely and effectively.

In some cases, expectant parents may be able to take steps to promote healthy fetal development and reduce the risk of birth complications, such as maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly during pregnancy.

In conclusion, neonatal fractures can be distressing for parents and healthcare providers alike. However, with proper diagnosis, treatment, and prevention, infants with bone injuries can go on to lead healthy and fulfilling lives. If you suspect that your infant may have suffered a bone fracture during delivery, it’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible to ensure prompt and effective treatment.

Predisposition to Fractures at Birth

While any infant can experience a bone fracture at birth, there are certain predispositions that may increase the likelihood of these injuries. One such factor is congenital bone fragility, which refers to a condition where bones are weaker than average due to genetic or developmental factors. This can make it easier for bones to fracture during the birthing process.

Another potential predisposition is the size of the infant in relation to the birth canal. If a baby is larger than average or if the birth canal is smaller than usual, there may be increased pressure on the bones during delivery, potentially leading to fractures.

Furthermore, certain medical conditions may also increase the likelihood of infant bone fractures. For example, osteogenesis imperfecta is a rare genetic disorder that causes bones to be brittle and break easily, even during normal activities. Infants born with this condition may be at increased risk for fractures at birth.

It is important to note that not all instances of infant bone fractures can be attributed to these predisposing factors. Sometimes fractures occur simply due to the forces of labor and delivery, with no underlying conditions or weaknesses playing a role.

Causes of Infant Bone Fractures

Infant bone fractures can occur during delivery as well as after birth. Some of the most common causes of fractures during delivery include:

  • Difficult delivery
  • Large infant size
  • Abnormal fetal position
  • Prolonged labor
  • Use of forceps or vacuum extractor during delivery

Fractures after birth can occur due to accidental falls or mishandling of the infant. In some cases, underlying medical conditions can increase the risk of fractures in newborns. These conditions may include:

  • Osteogenesis imperfecta, a genetic disorder characterized by fragile bones
  • Vitamin D deficiency, which can lead to weakened bones
  • Bone abnormalities
  • Blood clotting disorders
  • Child abuse or neglect

If you suspect that your infant has sustained a bone fracture, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. Your healthcare provider can assess your infant’s condition and determine the most appropriate course of action.

“Fractures during delivery can occur due to a difficult delivery, large infant size, abnormal fetal position, prolonged labor, or use of forceps or vacuum extractor during delivery.”

Types of Newborn Fractures

When it comes to newborns with broken bones, there are several types of fractures that can occur. Fractures in infants are typically classified based on the location of the injury and the type of fracture.

Locations of Newborn Fractures

The most common locations for fractures in newborns include the clavicle, humerus, femur, and skull. Let’s take a closer look at each of these locations:

ClavicleFractures of the collarbone are the most common type of birth injury, accounting for up to 70% of all neonatal fractures. They often occur during difficult deliveries or breech births.
HumerusFractures of the upper arm bone can be the result of a difficult delivery or can occur if the baby’s arm is pulled or twisted during delivery.
FemurThe thigh bone can be fractured during a difficult delivery or if excessive force is used to deliver the baby’s lower body.
SkullSkull fractures are rare but can occur if there is trauma to the baby’s head during delivery.

It’s worth noting that the vast majority of newborn fractures heal without complications and don’t result in any long-term effects.

Types of Fractures

Newborn fractures can also be classified based on their type. Here are the most common types of fractures in infants:

  • Linear fractures: These fractures occur when a bone cracks but does not move out of place.
  • Transverse fractures: This type of fracture occurs when the bone breaks horizontally.
  • Oblique fractures: These fractures occur diagonally across the bone.
  • Greenstick fractures: This type of fracture occurs when the bone cracks on one side but remains partially intact on the other side.
  • Compression fractures: These fractures occur when the bone is crushed or compressed, often in the spine.

Understanding the different types of newborn fractures can help healthcare providers diagnose and treat these injuries effectively. In the next section, we will focus on the diagnosis of infant bone fractures.

Diagnosis of Infant Bone Fractures

Diagnosing infant bone fractures can be a challenge, as newborns cannot yet communicate their symptoms and discomfort. Therefore, healthcare providers rely on a combination of physical exams, medical imaging, and careful observation to identify fractures in infants.

The occurrence of broken bones in newborns is not always obvious. In some cases, there may be no visible signs of injury, and the fracture may not be detected until weeks or even months after birth. However, some common indications of infant bone fractures include:

  • Pain or tenderness in the affected area
  • Swelling or bruising
  • Difficulty moving the limb
  • Displayed discomfort when picked up or touched
  • Abnormal positioning of the limb or joint

If healthcare providers suspect an infant has a fractured bone, they will immediately conduct a physical examination. This exam may include gently manipulating the limb to assess discomfort, and observing the infant’s reactions to identify which parts of the body may be causing pain. In some cases, healthcare providers may also request medical imaging, such as X-rays or ultrasounds, to confirm the presence of a fracture.

It is important to note that not all fractures require medical imaging for diagnosis. Some less severe fractures may be detected through careful observation of the infant’s behavior and symptoms. However, medical imaging is necessary in cases where the fracture is internal or difficult to detect without direct examination.

When to Consult a Healthcare Provider

If you suspect your newborn may have a bone fracture, it is essential to consult a healthcare provider immediately. Prompt diagnosis and treatment can help prevent complications and promote faster healing. A healthcare provider can help identify the presence of a fracture and develop an appropriate treatment plan to address the injury.

It is crucial to remember that early diagnosis of infant bone fractures is crucial in ensuring proper treatment and preventing long-term complications.

Potential Complications of Newborn Fractures

Complications of newborn fractures

Infant bone fractures can have a range of potential complications that can impact an infant’s health and well-being. The severity of the complications depends on the location and type of fracture.

Complications of newborn fractures can include:

  • Bone malformation: If a fracture is not properly treated, it can lead to bone malformation. This can cause future health complications and may require additional medical treatment.
  • Nerve damage: Fractures can cause damage to nearby nerves, leading to decreased sensation or movement in the affected area.
  • Infection: A fracture can create an open wound that can become infected. This can cause further health complications and may require antibiotics or additional medical treatment.
  • Delayed healing: In some cases, a fracture may take longer to heal than expected. This can cause discomfort and may require additional medical treatment.
  • Psychological impact: Newborn fractures can be emotionally challenging for families. Parents may feel guilty or responsible for the injury, while the infant may experience pain and discomfort.

In some cases, newborn fractures can be a sign of underlying medical conditions. Your healthcare provider may recommend additional testing or treatment to address these concerns and prevent future injuries.

Treatment Options for Infant Bone Fractures

If your newborn has been diagnosed with a bone fracture, rest assured that there are several treatment options available to promote healing and reduce the risk of long-term complications. The best treatment approach will depend on the location and severity of the fracture, as well as the overall health of your baby.

Non-Surgical Approaches

If the fracture is not severe, your healthcare provider may recommend non-surgical options to manage the injury. These may include:

  • Immobilization: Your baby’s healthcare provider may use a cast or splint to immobilize the affected limb and reduce movement that could impede the healing process. In some cases, a wrap or brace may be used instead.
  • Pain management: Fractures can be painful, and your healthcare provider may recommend pain management techniques, such as medication or numbing cream, to keep your baby comfortable during the healing process.

Surgical Approaches

In more severe cases, surgery may be necessary to repair the fracture. Your healthcare provider may recommend surgery if:

  • The fracture is severe and could result in long-term complications if left untreated
  • The fracture affects a joint or growth plate
  • The fracture has caused a deformity

Surgical procedures for infant bone fractures may include:

  1. Pinning: This involves the use of small pins or wires to hold the fractured bone in place while it heals.
  2. Surgical reduction: This is a procedure in which the healthcare provider manually realigns the fracture before securing it with pins, screws, or other hardware.
  3. External fixation: This involves the use of metal pins or screws that are attached to the bones and connected to a frame outside of the body. This helps to stabilize the fracture while it heals.

Recovery and Follow-Up Care

Following treatment for an infant bone fracture, your baby will require ongoing care and monitoring to ensure proper healing and identify any potential complications. Your healthcare provider may recommend:

  • Regular follow-up appointments to check on the healing process
  • Physical therapy or rehabilitation to promote healing and improve range of motion
  • X-rays or other imaging tests to monitor the healing process and assess for complications

Rehabilitation and Recovery for Newborns with Fractures

Recovering from an infant bone fracture can be a challenging process, but with proper care and treatment, most infants are able to make a full recovery. Depending on the severity of the fracture, the rehabilitation and recovery process can take several weeks to months. During this time, healthcare professionals will work with you and your baby to promote healing and support development.

Non-Surgical Treatment

For less severe fractures, non-surgical treatment options may be recommended. These can include immobilization of the affected area with a cast or splint, pain management, and physical therapy. Physical therapy can be particularly beneficial for infants who have sustained fractures that affect their mobility and movement. A physical therapist can work with your baby to help them regain strength, flexibility, and range of motion.

Surgical Treatment

In more severe cases, surgical intervention may be necessary. This can include the use of pins, plates, or screws to stabilize the affected bone. Surgery may also be required if the fracture has caused damage to surrounding tissues or organs. Following surgery, your baby will likely need to wear a cast or brace to support the healing process.

Long-Term Care

After the fracture has healed, your baby may require ongoing care and monitoring to ensure proper growth and development. This can include follow-up appointments, physical therapy, and regular check-ups to assess bone health. It is important to work closely with your healthcare provider to develop a long-term care plan that meets your baby’s unique needs.

Supporting Recovery

As a parent, there are several things you can do to support your baby’s recovery from an infant bone fracture. This can include providing a safe and comfortable environment, adhering to any treatment or rehabilitation plans, and engaging in developmental play activities with your baby. It is also important to seek emotional support for yourself and your family during this challenging time.

If you have any concerns or questions about your baby’s recovery from an infant bone fracture, be sure to speak with your healthcare provider. With proper care and attention, your baby can make a full recovery and continue to thrive.

Long-Term Outlook for Infants with Bone Fractures

When an infant sustains a bone fracture at birth, it can be a distressing experience for the family. However, the long-term outlook for infants with bone fractures is generally positive.

The prognosis for infant bone fractures largely depends on the type and severity of the fracture, as well as the promptness and effectiveness of treatment. In most cases, fractures heal completely, and the infant’s bone development continues as normal.

It is important to note that some studies have suggested that infants who experience fractures at birth may be at a slightly increased risk for bone fractures later in life. However, this risk is generally low and can be minimized through proper management and monitoring during infancy and childhood.

Parents of infants with bone fractures may understandably feel anxious about their child’s long-term health and development. However, it is important to remember that most infants with bone fractures recover fully and go on to lead happy, healthy lives.

Prevention of Long-Term Complications

While the long-term outlook for infants with bone fractures is generally positive, it is essential to take steps to prevent any potential long-term complications.

This may include regular follow-up care with a pediatrician, monitoring for signs of delayed or abnormal bone growth, and ensuring that the child receives adequate nutrition to support healthy bone development.

Parents may also consider working with a physical therapist to help their child regain strength and mobility after a fracture. This can be especially helpful for infants who have undergone surgery or who have had more severe fractures.

By taking these steps, parents can help ensure that their child has the best possible long-term outlook following a bone fracture at birth.


While the thought of a newborn with a bone fracture can be unsettling, the long-term outlook for infants with these injuries is generally positive. With proper diagnosis and treatment, most infants heal completely and go on to develop normally. Parents can take steps to minimize the risk of long-term complications and support their child’s recovery.

Preventive Measures to Reduce Newborn Fractures

Although infant bone fractures can occur for various reasons, there are certain preventive measures you can take to reduce the likelihood of birth bone injuries. Here are a few ways to lower the risk of newborn fractures:

  • Attend regular prenatal checkups: Regular visits to your healthcare provider during pregnancy can help identify any potential risk factors that may lead to complications during delivery. By keeping track of your health and your baby’s growth, your healthcare provider can monitor for potential warning signs and take necessary precautions to prevent injuries during birth.
  • Consider alternatives to vaginal delivery: In some cases, a cesarean section may be recommended to reduce the risk of injury during delivery. Infants who are in a breech position are at a higher risk of bone fractures during vaginal delivery, and a cesarean section may be a safer alternative.
  • Avoid excessive force during delivery: Healthcare providers should apply appropriate techniques to minimize the amount of force required during delivery. Excessive force can lead to bone fractures in newborns.
  • Ensure proper training for healthcare providers: It’s essential for healthcare providers who assist in deliveries to receive proper training and education on safe delivery practices. This helps ensure that the delivery process is as safe as possible for both mother and infant.
  • Encourage proper infant handling: Before handling your newborn, it’s essential to ensure that you know how to support their head and neck. Avoid picking up the infant by their arms or legs, as this can lead to fractures or dislocations.
  • Consult your healthcare provider if you suspect a fracture: If you notice any unusual behavior or signs of distress in your newborn, make sure to contact your healthcare provider immediately. Early detection and treatment can help prevent further complications.

By taking these preventive measures, you can reduce the risk of birth bone injuries and promote a safer delivery for your newborn. Remember, always consult your healthcare provider if you have any concerns or questions about your pregnancy or delivery.

Supporting Families Affected by Infant Bone Fractures

Dealing with a newborn with a bone fracture can be a difficult and emotional experience for families. Coping with the injury, attending to your baby’s medical needs, and taking care of yourself can be overwhelming. It’s essential to seek support and guidance from healthcare professionals, as well as family and friends, to help you navigate this challenging time.

Medical Support

Healthcare professionals will play a critical role in supporting your baby’s recovery from a bone fracture. They will work closely with you to develop a treatment plan and provide ongoing medical care to ensure proper healing and recovery.

Your healthcare provider may recommend consulting with a pediatric orthopedic surgeon to evaluate and diagnose your baby’s fracture. They may also suggest imaging tests to assess the extent of the injury and monitor the healing process. Physical therapy may also be necessary to promote bone growth and development.

Emotional Support

It’s important to prioritize your emotional well-being during this time of stress and uncertainty. Consider seeking emotional support from a counselor, therapist, or support group. They can offer a listening ear, guidance, and strategies for managing the emotional impact of your baby’s injury.

You can also find support from family and friends who can offer practical assistance, such as running errands or preparing meals. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

Financial Support

Infant bone fractures can result in significant medical expenses, including hospital stays, diagnostic tests, and specialized treatment. It’s essential to explore your insurance coverage and financial assistance options to manage these costs.

You may be eligible for government-funded programs, such as Medicaid, or nonprofit organizations that provide financial assistance to families with medical needs. Consider speaking with a financial counselor to explore all available options.


Support and guidance are essential for families dealing with newborn bone fractures. Seeking medical, emotional, and financial support can help you manage the physical, emotional, and financial impact of this injury. Remember that you are not alone, and reaching out for help is a sign of strength.

Research and Advancements in Neonatal Fractures

Research on neonatal fractures

If your newborn has experienced a bone fracture, you may be wondering about the latest research and advancements in the field. Fortunately, healthcare providers and medical researchers are constantly exploring new strategies and treatments for neonatal fractures.

Recent studies have focused on identifying risk factors for infant bone fractures, developing more accurate diagnostic tools, and improving surgical techniques for treating complex fractures. In addition, ongoing efforts are underway to promote preventive measures and support families affected by these injuries.

Advancements in Infant Bone Fracture Treatment

One area of research that has shown promise is the development of new treatment options for infant bone fractures. Traditional treatment methods have included immobilization, casting, and in some cases, surgical intervention.

However, recent advancements in medical technology have led to the development of alternative approaches. One such approach is the use of ultrasound to guide the reduction of fractures, which can lead to better alignment and more effective healing. Another promising development is the use of low-intensity pulsed ultrasound therapy to accelerate bone healing in infants with fractures.

Prevention and Early Intervention

Preventive measures are also being explored to reduce the incidence of neonatal fractures. Healthcare providers are educating parents on proper infant handling techniques, such as supporting the head and neck, to avoid accidental injuries. In addition, some hospitals are implementing protocols for more careful handling of infants during delivery to prevent fractures.

Early intervention is also key to preventing long-term complications of bone fractures in infants. Healthcare providers are encouraged to screen infants at risk for bone fractures and promptly diagnose and treat any injuries that occur.

Support for Families Affected by Infant Bone Fractures

Families affected by infant bone fractures may also benefit from the latest research and support options available. Support groups and counseling services can provide emotional support and practical guidance for coping with the challenges of caring for an infant with a fracture.

Additionally, some hospitals are implementing family-centered care models that emphasize collaboration between healthcare providers and families to ensure the best possible outcomes for infants with bone fractures. By working together, healthcare providers and families can provide the best possible care for infants with these injuries.


Overall, infants can be born with broken bones, and neonatal fractures are not uncommon. While these injuries can be distressing for parents and healthcare providers, it is important to understand that many newborns heal quickly and fully recover with appropriate treatment and care.

Knowing the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for infant bone fractures can help you better support your child or the newborns under your care. If you suspect that an infant has sustained a fracture, it is crucial to seek prompt medical attention to ensure the best possible outcome.

Preventing Newborn Fractures

Fortunately, there are many measures that expectant parents and healthcare providers can take to help reduce the risk of neonatal fractures. These include:

  • Providing mothers with adequate prenatal care, which can help identify any risk factors for infant bone fractures
  • Encouraging mothers to maintain a healthy pregnancy, through a balanced diet and regular exercise
  • Using appropriate delivery techniques, such as avoiding excessive traction or pressure during delivery
  • Providing newborns with appropriate support and handling, such as proper positioning and gentle handling of limbs
  • Ensuring that healthcare providers are trained in identifying and managing neonatal fractures

Supporting Families Affected by Infant Fractures

Beyond prevention, it is also important to provide support and resources for families affected by infant bone fractures. Coping with these injuries can be challenging, and parents may benefit from counseling, support groups, and other resources to help them navigate the emotional and practical aspects of caring for an injured child.

Advancements in Neonatal Fracture Treatment

Finally, ongoing research and advancements in neonatal fracture treatment offer hope for improved outcomes for infants with these injuries. From new surgical techniques to emerging technologies, healthcare providers are working to develop more effective and less invasive approaches to managing neonatal fractures.

By staying informed about the latest developments in the field, parents and healthcare providers can work together to provide the best possible care for infants with bone fractures, and ultimately, work towards reducing the occurrence of these injuries in the future.


Can babies be born with broken bones?

Yes, it is possible for babies to be born with broken bones, although it is rare. The birthing process can exert significant force on a baby’s delicate bones, resulting in fractures.

What are neonatal fractures?

Neonatal fractures are bone injuries that occur in infants during the birthing process. These fractures can be caused by the pressure and force exerted on the baby’s bones during delivery.

What factors can predispose newborns to fractures at birth?

Certain factors, such as a difficult or prolonged delivery, the use of instruments during delivery (such as forceps), or conditions like osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bone disease), can increase the likelihood of newborns experiencing fractures at birth.

What causes infant bone fractures during delivery?

Infant bone fractures during delivery can be caused by factors such as the baby’s position during delivery, the use of forceps or vacuum extraction, or excessive force exerted on the baby’s bones.

What are the types of fractures that can occur in newborns?

Common types of fractures that can occur in newborns include clavicle fractures, skull fractures, and long bone fractures in the arms or legs.

How are infant bone fractures diagnosed?

Healthcare professionals use various methods to diagnose infant bone fractures, including physical examinations, imaging tests such as X-rays, and careful evaluation of the baby’s medical history and symptoms.

What are the potential complications of newborn fractures?

Newborn fractures can lead to complications such as pain, swelling, limited range of motion, infection, and in rare cases, damage to nerves or blood vessels near the fracture site.

What are the treatment options for infant bone fractures?

The treatment options for infant bone fractures depend on the severity and location of the fracture. It may include immobilization with splints or casts, pain management, physical therapy, or, in more severe cases, surgery.

How do newborns with fractures rehabilitate and recover?

Newborns with fractures may undergo rehabilitation through exercises, physical therapy, and specialized care to support healing and promote optimal development.

What is the long-term outlook for infants with bone fractures?

The long-term outlook for infants with bone fractures depends on various factors such as the location and severity of the fractures. In many cases, infants heal well and go on to develop normally, but ongoing monitoring and follow-up care may be necessary.

What are some preventive measures to reduce newborn fractures?

To reduce the occurrence of newborn fractures, healthcare providers and expectant parents can work together to ensure safe delivery practices, avoid unnecessary interventions, and promote healthy bone development during pregnancy.

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