What Is Erb's Palsy And What Causes It?

What Is Erb's Palsy And What Causes It?

Posted By Maher Law Firm || 15-Aug-2018

Erb’s palsy is a form of obstetric brachial plexus disorder, which is an injury that occurs when the nerves in a baby’s upper arm are damaged. This damage is often the result of a birth injury that is caused by a negligent medical professional during labor, such as excessive pulling on the shoulders or the improper use of birth-assistance tools. Depending on the severity of the injury, the symptoms of Erb’s palsy will vary. In some cases, the symptoms can be quite mild, while in others, it can be a serious condition and affect the whole trunk of a baby’s body.

Erb’s Palsy Risk Factors

Generally, excessive lateral traction and stretching of the baby’s head and neck during delivery lead to the development of Erb’s palsy. However, there are several risk factors that can increase the chances of a baby sustaining a birth injury that could lead to Erb’s palsy, which includes:

  • The use of forceps or a vacuum extraction tool during delivery
  • Large infant size
  • Small maternal size
  • Substantial maternal weight gain
  • The second stage of labor lasts over an hour
  • Infants with a high birth weight
  • Infants in the breach position

Symptoms of Erb’s Palsy

Erb’s palsy is sometimes referred to as shoulder dystocia or brachial plexus palsy due to the fact that the brachial plexus nerves in the shoulder have been shifted, damaged, or broken during delivery. Some of the most common symptoms associated with Erb’s palsy include:

  • Inability to move the arm or shoulder: Infants do not have much control or mobility, but they are generally able to move their arms. If you notice that your infant is unable to move an arm or shoulder, you should notify your doctor immediately.
  • Arm bent toward the body: If your baby suffers from Erb’s palsy, you might also notice that the arm on the affected side is bent toward the body in a way that looks abnormal or unnatural. In most cases, the arm that is affected will appear limp and bent at the elbow towards the body, so seek a diagnosis immediately if you notice this sign.
  • Weak or absent reflexes: The brachial plexus nerves are responsible for sensation and reflexes in the arm. When they are damaged, an infant’s arm will be unable to respond as it should and, therefore, the infant’s arm might be weak and unable to properly perform any reflexes.
  • Loss of feeling: Since the brachial plexus nerves are responsible for sensation, damage to these nerves will also result in a loss of feeling in the affected arm, causing it to resemble a foot that has fallen asleep.
  • Pain: Erb’s palsy does not only affect sensations and reflexes, it is also a painful condition. This pain is usually evident in the arm or shoulder itself, though it can also occur in the neck. If your newborn baby has Erb’s palsy, you might not yet be able to discern the difference between a cry for food and a painful cry, so consult with your physician right away if you suspect your baby is crying from pain.

Other symptoms include a decreased grip or limp bicep muscles.

Birth Injury Attorneys in Orlando

If your baby suffered a birth injury at the hands of a negligent medical professional that resulted in Erb’s palsy, you need to obtain the skilled legal representation of an experienced birth injury attorney. At The Maher Law Firm in Orlando, our team of birth injury attorneys is dedicated to fighting on behalf of the wrongfully injured and will do what is necessary to ensure the responsible parties are held accountable for their actions.

Get started on your case today and contact us at (855) 338-0720 to request your free initial case evaluation with one of our knowledgeable attorneys.

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