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Erb’s Palsy Questions

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What is an Erbs palsy birth injury?

Erbs palsy is a birth injury to the brachial plexus that occurs when a baby with shoulder dystocia is pulled from the mother during birth. It affects the use of the arm and hand. It is preventable.


The brachial plexus is a bundle of nerves located between the neck and shoulder. It controls the arm and hand.

Shoulder dystocia is a condition in which the baby’s shoulder gets stuck behind the mother’s pubic bone during child birth.

There are risk factors which doctors should be aware of making shoulder dystocia more likely. They include:

  • Obese mother
  • Above-normal weight gain during pregnancy
  • Advanced age of mother
  • Short or small mother
  • Flat, contracted or exceptionally small pelvis
  • Diabetes in the mother
  • Large baby
  • Overdue baby
  • Prolonged labor
  • Breech position

A C-section is the most reliable way to prevent brachial plexus injuries, but sometimes shoulder dystocia is not detected in time to perform a C-section and in some cases C-section is too risky. Other methods to prevent brachial plexus injuries when a baby has shoulder dystocia include:

  • The McRoberts maneuver, involves placing the mother’s thighs on her abdomen
  • Suprapubic pressure, using pressure from the outside of the mother to reposition the baby
  • Wood’s corkscrew, reaching in and rotating the baby to free the arm
  • Removing the posterior arm from the birth canal
  • Rolling the mother from her back onto all fours

Erb’s palsy affects the arm and hand. Symptoms include:

  • Rotated arm
  • Winged shoulder blade
  • Flexed elbow
  • Downward sloped shoulder
  • Loss of feeling in shoulder, arm and hand
  • Paralysis of shoulder, arm and hand
  • Hand which does not function properly
  • Atrophy of the deltoid, biceps, and brachialis muscles
  • Shorter than normal arm

Yes. Treatment usually involves surgery to repair nerve damage, and always involves physical therapy. Some babies will suffer from life-long disability, but some can fully recover. The extent of recovery depends on the type and severity of the injury, and on early detection and treatment.

No. Erb’s palsy is not fatal, but it can mean permanent disability for your child.

Talk to a doctor right away and get treatment started for your baby. Talk to a dedicated Erbs Palsy attorney who has experience specifically with Erb’s palsy cases. Birth injury cases are complicated and require special medical knowledge and experience to pursue.

New Jersey medical malpractice lawyers Weiss & Paarz have handled over a dozen of these types of claims and recovered millions for families in need. If your child has suffered a birth injury or birth trauma, please contact Weiss & Paarz, P.C, today.

*The firm handles cases in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. For cases outside those states, Weiss & Paarz works with local attorneys in the state where the medical care took place, at no additional cost to the client.

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