Erb's palsy is a form of brachial plexus palsy that leads to a weakness and possible paralysis of a newborn’s arm. Erb’s palsy is the result of a stretch injury to your baby’s brachial plexus, a network of nerves near the neck that connect to the nerves of the arm that control movement and feeling to the arm and hands.
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About the Condition
Erb's palsy is usually a birth injury, occurring at the time of a difficult child birth. If a difficult birth causes your baby’s shoulder to become stuck on the mother’s pelvic bone, this is called shoulder dystocia. Shoulder dystocia can stretch, tear or rupture the nerves of the child’s brachial plexus.
Erb’s palsy can also be caused by medical malpractice. This can include excessive pulling on the shoulders during delivery, or when your newborn’s head and neck are pulled to the side to allow the shoulders to pass through your birth canal.
Excessive stretching or tearing of the brachial plexus often causes:
- Reduced sensation
- A lack of muscle control in the upper limb
Most often, a baby’s upper nerves are affected. Your child may be able to move his or her hand, but possibly not their arm. If both the upper and lower nerves are stretched, the condition is usually more severe than just Erb's palsy. It is called “global" or total, brachial plexus birth palsy.
One or two of every 1,000 babies born suffer from Erb’s palsy and about one in 10 Erb's palsy sufferers recover on their own. Most infants with this condition will regain feeling and movement in their injured harm. As a parent, you must carefully review the recovery process to ensure full functionality.
Risks of Shoulder Dystocia
A properly trained obstetrician will be able to identify any shoulder dystocia risks and can take the necessary steps to avoid injury during the birthing process. Increased risks of shoulder dystocia include:
- High birth-weight babies
- Overweight or obese mothers
- A long second stage of labor
Shoulder dystocia can be prevented by scheduling a caesarean section (c-section) for mothers who are at high risk. If shoulder dystocia occurs during delivery, there are a number of techniques that can be attempted to free the trapped shoulder and deliver the baby safely. Although shoulder dystocia is a serious situation that can result in Erb’s palsy, it does not have to.
Calling us today will not cost you a dime. If you live in the Chicago area and your child has suffered a birth injury, please call Harvey L. Walner & Associates, Ltd. We work on a contingency basis and offer free consultations, so please contact our office today to learn more.
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