When Your Child Has a Broken Collarbone (Clavicular Fracture) at Birth

Your newborn has a broken collarbone (clavicle). This is a common and treatable problem in newborns. Babies can easily break (fracture) their clavicle as they pass through the birth canal during birth. Large birthweight babies are more likely to have these fractures. The clavicle almost always heals with no problems.

 Outline of baby with fracture in clavicle.

 Outline of baby with fracture callus on clavicle.

What are the signs of a clavicular fracture?

  • Your baby may hold the arm bent in front of the chest and not move it. This is called “pseudo paralysis.” The arm is not paralyzed. But moving the arm may be painful, so the baby avoids moving it.

  • The broken area of the collarbone may move when pressed on, and may feel like it is “crunching.”

  • A bump may be seen on the collarbone. This is called a fracture callus and is a sign that the fracture is healing.

How are broken collarbones diagnosed?

The fracture may be found when the baby is examined soon after birth. An X-ray may be done to confirm the fracture. In some cases, the break is so mild that it is not diagnosed until the fracture callus begins to form and a bump is noticed at the collarbone.

How are broken collarbones treated?

Collarbone fractures heal quickly on their own without treatment. The doctor may recommend keeping the infant’s arm and shoulder still for several days. If so, this is done by putting the infant’s arm in a sling or pinning the infant’s sleeve to their shirt.

What are the long-term concerns?

Even for serious fractures, healing is usually excellent with no long-term problems. A bump may remain on the collarbone over the area of the break. This bump will slowly go away over time.