Learning About a Broken Collarbone in Newborns

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What is a broken collarbone?

A broken collarbone is a break or crack in the bone that connects the shoulder to the chest. This bone also supports the shoulder.

The break may happen during delivery. It usually is not a serious problem. Your baby may have less movement on the injured side and feel some pain and be fussy at first. But the pain will go away as the bone heals.

The doctor may find the break when examining your baby after birth. Your baby may get an X-ray to find out for sure if the collarbone is broken. The doctor will also check to see if there are any other problems with your baby's arms and shoulders.

Your baby may have some swelling, redness, or bruising. You may feel a bump on the collarbone. The bump is normal. It is a sign that the bone is healing. It may get smaller with time.

How is a broken collarbone treated?

A broken collarbone doesn't need a cast or surgery. It will heal on its own within several weeks. It shouldn't cause problems in the future. The doctor will watch your baby closely to make sure that the bone is healing well.

What can you expect?

Your baby will be kept comfortable and warm while being seen by the doctor. It may seem that your baby is getting lots of tests. All of these tests help your doctor keep track of your baby's condition and give the best treatment possible. The doctor or nurse will give you instructions about how to care for your baby's collarbone.

How can you care for your newborn at home?

To protect your baby's collarbone, try dressing your baby in long-sleeved tops. Put the arm of the injured side in the sleeve first. Use a safety pin to attach the sleeve to the shirt near your baby's side. When undressing your baby, remove the arm of the injured side from the sleeve last.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.