Broken bones in babies are not as common as they are in children and adults. Babies' bones are much more soft and pliable -- but breaks still happen with severe force, genetic disease or unintentional trauma. Here is how you can learn if your baby has a broken bone and what you should do about it.
Signs of Fractures
Normally, when someone has a broken bone, they can communicate the type of pain and what they think might have caused it. With babies this is not possible, so you have to be very observant. Signs of broken bones in infants include:
- swelling or redness in the area of the break.
- fussiness or non-stop crying even after the baby has been fed and comforted.
- unwillingness to move, crawl, or roll.
- refusal or inability to stand. Babies, even young babies, will stand on a lap when a parent is supporting their arms and midsection.
- intense or large bruises.
- wounds where the broken bone has split the skin.
If you notice any of these symptoms, your baby will need to be assessed by an orthopedist in order to make sure the bone is broken. Sometimes, bones can be cracked or muscles can be sprained, which will result in some similar symptoms. Only a doctor will be able to tell you for certain.
Until you can get your baby medical care, do what you can to make your child comfortable. However, first response care varies depending on the type of fracture. If you suspect a broken skull, spine, or pelvis, it's important that you not move your baby any more than is absolutely necessary. You should call 911 and make sure your baby remains still and breathing until the paramedics arrive.
If your baby has an open (compound) fracture, you should also refrain from moving your baby. Don't clean the area or touch it. Instead, lay some sterile pads or cloth from a first aid kit over the wound to prevent contamination and wait for medical help. Touching the wound and cleaning it can lead to infection.
Other types of fractures are less severe. You don't need to call 911. Simply try to keep the broken area still and take them to urgent care for an x-ray. If possible, try to refrain from giving your infant anything to eat or drink until he or she is seen by the doctor. Some breaks necessitate surgery and if it's emergent, your baby needs an empty stomach for general anesthesia.
For more information on bone fractures, contact an orthopedist, like those at Ultimate Sports, in your area.