Newborn Clavicle and Humerus Fractures

Which bones are most commonly fractured in newborns?

The clavicle (collarbone) and the humerus (between the shoulder and elbow).

What are the risk factors?

Clavicle fractures occur during birth usually secondary to maternal-fetal disproportion. (A big baby and a relatively small mom)


How common are birth fractures of the clavicle and humerus?

The medical literature usually states fractures occur in 0.5% to 1% of births. In Dr. Bradley’s experience, birth fractures are far less common than the literature states.

Signs and Symptoms

  • A lump on the collar bone.
  • A newborn will not move or use the suspected arm.
  • When an examiner moves the arm, the newborn expresses pain.

What to do when you suspect that your newborn has a collar bone fracture

  • Call his/her pediatrician and schedule an appointment.
  • Allow your child to guide his or her activities and movements of the suspected shoulder/arm/hand and elbow.



A pediatrician or other health care provider may suspect a fracture on examination in the hospital. An X-ray of your newborn’s collar bone can confirm the injury.


The newborn’s fracture usually solidly heals in two weeks.  Dr. Bradley, like many doctors who treat this problem, usually applies a “Velpeau bandage.”  That means he snugly ace wraps the effected arm to the baby’s body.



It is okay to remove the bandage to bathe your baby.  Your fears are correct and moving the arm around for cleaning does hurt.  The pain goes away as the break unites and moving the arm some as needed for bathing does not interfere with timely healing of your baby’s clavicle or humerus fracture.

Do long term problems ever occur in people who were born with clavicle or humerus fractures?

Very rarely patients with clavicle or humerus fractures also have a brachial plexus palsy that resulted from birth.  Dr. Bradley does a neurologic examination at each of your baby’s follow-up visits and prescribes therapy or splinting if neurologic function is slow to recover.

What is the usual course of events for a baby who has a birth clavicle or humerus fracture?

The injury almost always heals quickly and results in a completely normal arm.


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