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What is Erb’s palsy and how does it develop?

| Nov 28, 2014 | Birth Injuries

When people in Boston and throughout the nation are having a baby, it is one of the most exciting and joyous moments of their lives. Along with the enthusiasm, there is often a fear that something will go wrong with the delivery process to cause birth injuries. These injuries can sometimes lead to an issue known as Erb’s palsy. This condition frequently results from brachial plexus injuries. If the cause of the brachial plexus injury is because of a mistake on the part of the doctor, it’s important that the parents are aware of how and why it happened.

There are several kinds of brachial plexus injuries possible in a baby. For it to be considered Erb’s palsy, there will be paralysis affecting the upper arm and lower arm. It can be caused by the head and neck of the infant pulling toward the side as its shoulders are passing through the mother’s birth canal. If the medical professionals pull on the baby’s shoulders when the delivery is head first or when there is pressure on the baby’s raised arms during a feet first, or breech, delivery, it is possible that there will be a brachial plexus injury.

Dangers of a brachial plexus injury are numerous and include the aforementioned breech delivery, a baby whose size is larger than normal, and should dystocia. Shoulder dystocia is when the there is a problem delivering the baby’s shoulder after the head has already come out. While this doesn’t occur as often as it once did, it can still be a problem that will lead to medical expenses for the parents who have to worry about a child who has Erb’s palsy. Symptoms might involve the infant not moving the hand or arm, the arm bent and held against the baby’s body, and a decrease in the grip in the side that is affected.

This is frequently treated in numerous ways. In some instances, surgery might be required when the baby is 3 to 6 months old. In some cases, there could be a separation of the nerve root leading to possible long-term issues for the baby. There could be paralysis or abnormal contractions of the muscles. For parents who believe that there was an error made in the delivery process resulting in Erb’s palsy, it’s imperative to discuss the matter with a legal professional with experience in birth injuries.

Source:, “Brachial plexus injury in newborns,” accessed on Nov. 25, 2014


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