Newborn Humerus Fracture

What Is a Newborn Humerus Fracture?

When a baby is born too quickly, or the baby is too big for the mother’s birth canal, the baby’s head can get delivered, but the shoulders and chest get stuck. This is a potentially deadly situation for the child, since the umbilical cord is pinched during this time as well. Due to the risks to the baby, the doctor or nurse delivering the baby will do what is needed to make the delivery happen while avoiding pulling on the head or neck (which could cause permanent nerve damage to an arm).

Sometimes this means the collarbone becomes broken. The humerus (upper arm bone) can also become broken. This can be a scary thing to learn about your newborn child, but it is a better outcome for the situation. A neonatal humerus fracture will most likely heal and will become just fine on their own

Your baby will react to a humerus fracture by not moving the affected arm at all. Moving the arm increases the pain, so this is a logical response. As caregivers, you and your nurses will find a way to keep the arm from moving too much. Usually this means leaving it inside the onesie, or using a long-sleeve onesie and pinning the sleeve to the opposite shoulder. A stretchy netting (often used for burn patient dressings) can be used over the chest to help hold the arm.

Infant Humerus Fracture Treatment

Splinting or casting is not recommended for newborn humerus fracture. Unfortunately, your baby cannot tell you he or she is in pain, and a splint or cast could easily become too tight or slip out of place causing permanent scarring or damage to the nerves. This makes these devices too risky for a newborn. Surgery is not recommended, because the healing process without surgery occurs so quickly and reliably that surgery is not needed.

In a newborn, the bone does not need to be lined up much at all to achieve perfect healing. The bone can be angulated 45 degrees and the body will straighten it out on its own. It is a natural process.

After about 10 days to 2 weeks, there is early bone healing (called callus) that gently holds the bone ends in place. About this time, the infant is less bothered when the arm is disturbed. He or she may start moving the hand and wrist at this time.

At about 4 to 5 weeks, the healing callus is visible on X-ray, and you can really feel the huge bump of bone in your baby’s arm. Do not worry. It is not a tumor and it will go away. This is very strong bone. At this point, the bone is completely healed. However, the body is not done with it yet. Over the next few weeks to months, the bone will become more and more narrow so that about 3 to 4 months after birth, the bone is normal in appearance and function.

Newborn Humerus Fracture Follow-Up

In the end, the bone is normal. It is not more likely to break again, and will not be too long or too short. It will not be crooked. It will function normally throughout your baby’s life.

Orthopedics – 5678

Contact Us

Connect with Norton Children’s Orthopedics of Louisville.

(502) 394-5678

Spina bifida challenges suit spine surgeon with engineering background

Rolando M. Puno, M.D., spine specialist with the Norton Children’s Spina Bifida Clinic and Norton Leatherman Spine, likes solving difficult challenges. Patients from around the world have come to Dr. Puno for surgery and treatment […]

Read Full Story

Learning from the ‘heart’ kids bring to spina bifida treatment

Like a lot of future orthopedic surgeons, Joshua W. Meier, M.D., liked to build things growing up. What got him interested in becoming a surgeon wasn’t making model planes out of balsa wood or helping […]

Read Full Story

Pediatric gynecologist lends expertise at spina bifida clinic

As a medical student, Kimberly S. Huhmann, M.D., was interested in both pediatrics and obstetrics/gynecology. It was during her residency that Dr. Huhmann started considering combining her interests as a pediatric and adolescent gynecology specialist. […]

Read Full Story

Family embraces clubfoot treatment for daughter

On Christmas morning, 2 year-old Mila Naik woke up without her clubfoot brace. She was not happy with her mom, Devin, who in the midst of Christmas Eve merriment, thought it best for Mila to […]

Read Full Story

Clubfoot treatment: Ponseti method can help children

Clubfoot, sometimes known as club leg, affects roughly 1 out of 1,000 newborns. Clubfoot treatment, including the Ponseti method, can begin soon after birth. Treatment with a pediatric orthopedist can give children with clubfoot the […]

Read Full Story
Related Stories

Spina bifida challenges suit spine surgeon with engineering background

Rolando M. Puno, M.D., spine specialist with the Norton Children’s Spina Bifida Clinic and Norton Leatherman Spine, likes solving difficult challenges. Patients from around the world have come to Dr. Puno for surgery and treatment […]

Read Full Story

Learning from the ‘heart’ kids bring to spina bifida treatment

Like a lot of future orthopedic surgeons, Joshua W. Meier, M.D., liked to build things growing up. What got him interested in becoming a surgeon wasn’t making model planes out of balsa wood or helping […]

Read Full Story

Pediatric gynecologist lends expertise at spina bifida clinic

As a medical student, Kimberly S. Huhmann, M.D., was interested in both pediatrics and obstetrics/gynecology. It was during her residency that Dr. Huhmann started considering combining her interests as a pediatric and adolescent gynecology specialist. […]

Read Full Story

Family embraces clubfoot treatment for daughter

On Christmas morning, 2 year-old Mila Naik woke up without her clubfoot brace. She was not happy with her mom, Devin, who in the midst of Christmas Eve merriment, thought it best for Mila to […]

Read Full Story

Clubfoot treatment: Ponseti method can help children

Clubfoot, sometimes known as club leg, affects roughly 1 out of 1,000 newborns. Clubfoot treatment, including the Ponseti method, can begin soon after birth. Treatment with a pediatric orthopedist can give children with clubfoot the […]

Read Full Story

Search our entire site.