The Association of Clavicle Fracture With Brachial Plexus Birth Palsy

Published:January 23, 2019DOI:


      Shoulder dystocia is the strongest known risk factor for brachial plexus birth palsy (BPBP). Fractures of the clavicle are known to occur in the setting of shoulder dystocia. It remains unknown whether a clavicle fracture that occurs during a birth delivery with shoulder dystocia increases the risk of BPBP or, alternatively, is protective. The purpose of this study was to use a large, national database to determine whether a clavicle fracture in the setting of shoulder dystocia is associated with an increased or decreased risk of BPBP.

      Materials and methods

      The 1997 to 2012 Kids’ Inpatient Database (KID) was analyzed for this study. International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision (ICD-9) codes were used to identify newborns diagnosed with shoulder dystocia and BPBP as well as a concurrent fracture of the clavicle. Newborns with shoulder dystocia were stratified into 2 groups: dystocia without a clavicle fracture and dystocia with a clavicle fracture. Multivariable logistic regression was used to quantify the risk for BPBP among shoulder dystocia subgroups.


      The dataset included 5,564,628 sample births extrapolated to 23,385,597 population births over the 16-year study period. A BPBP occurred at a rate of 1.2 per 1,000 births. Shoulder dystocia complicated 18.8% of births with a BPBP. A total of 7.84% of newborns with a BPBP also sustained a clavicle fracture. Births with shoulder dystocia and a clavicle fracture incurred BPBP at a rate similar to that for newborns with shoulder dystocia and no fracture (9.82% vs 11.77%). Shoulder dystocia without a concurrent clavicle fracture was an independent risk factor for BPBP (odds ratio, 112.1; 95% confidence interval, 103.5–121.4). Those with shoulder dystocia and clavicle fracture had a risk for BPBP comparable with those with shoulder dystocia but no fracture (odds ratio, 126.7 vs 112.1).


      This population-level investigation suggests that, among newborns with shoulder dystocia, clavicle fracture is not associated with a significant change in the risk of BPBP.

      Type of study/level of evidence

      Prognostic II.

      Key words

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