Childbirth is a difficult process that puts the mother and baby in danger sometimes. For some babies, the risk of a brachial plexus injury is the issue that they will face during delivery. This is an injury to the network of nerves in the shoulder that can lead to difficulties using the hands and arms.

When there is an injury to the brachial plexus during birth, it can cause two different conditions — Klumpke’s palsy or Erb’s palsy. The location of the injury in the brachial plexus determines the condition.

Klumpke’s palsy occurs when there is an injury in the lower portion of the brachial plexus. This can cause an inability to use the hand and wrist.

Erb’s palsy occurs when the injury is to the upper portion of the brachial plexus. This can cause motion problems with the elbow and shoulder.

The long-term outcome for these injuries is often dependent upon receiving proper care as quickly as possible after the injury. Some babies who suffer from these conditions will be able to function normally with only therapy. Other children might need to have surgery or other interventions.

If the injury did occur at birth and surgery is necessary, having it between four and nine months after birth can usually produce the best outcome. If the injury is left alone for more than a year, long-term damage is more likely.

Brachial plexus injuries can be the result of a larger baby being delivered vaginally. This occurs in around one to two out of every 1,000 births. If your child is one of the ones who was injured, you might opt to seek compensation for the injury.

Source: Johns Hopkins Medicine, “Obstetric Brachial Plexus Palsy,” accessed Sep. 28, 2016