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 he or she examines 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?

  • The 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.
  • Handle your baby gently. Your baby will usually limit movement on his or her own. Choose clothing that is easy to put on and take off.
  • If it helps with pain, you can try swaddling your baby.
  • If it helps with pain, you can try dressing your baby in long-sleeved tops. Make sure you put your baby's injured arm in the sleeve first. To help keep the injured arm steady against your baby's body, use a safety pin to attach the upper sleeve to the part of the shirt near your baby's side. When undressing your baby, remove the uninjured arm from the sleeve first.
  • Ask your baby's doctor if you can give your baby medicine for pain.Be safe with medicine. Read and follow all instructions on the label.

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.

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 or nurse call line 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 he or she takes.