During a difficult delivery and when there mistakes are made by doctors or other medical professionals, injuries at birth can occur. One of the most common birth injuries is damage to the Brachial Plexus. The brachial plexus is a bundle of nerves that lies between the neck and the shoulder. Brachial plexus injuries result in numerous disabilities ranging from mild to severe, but the most common is called Erbs palsy.
Brachial Plexus injuries can be caused when the baby is born with shoulder dystocia. Shoulder dystocia is one of the most dreaded birthing experiences an obstetrician can face. Shoulder dystocia occurs when, after delivery of the baby’s head, the baby’s anterior shoulder gets stuck behind the mother’s pubic bone. Not knowing how to properly deliver a baby with shoulder dystocia can be catastrophic, and this type of medical malpractice is especially tragic because an innocent baby is the victim.
There are several ways damage to the brachial plexus nerves can manifest itself in newborns:
- Horner’s Syndrome is caused by damage to the sympathetic nervous system and results in eyelid droop and a smaller pupil.
- Klumpke’s Palsy is paralysis of the thoracic nerves and caused the hand to be limp with immovable fingers.
- Complete Brachial Plexus Palsy occurs when all five nerves of the brachial plexus are affected; the entire arm will be paralyzed.
- Erb’s Palsy results in your newborn being able to move one arm but not the other. Most infants born with this condition will recover both movement and sensation in the affected arm without surgery, but if the nerves don’t recover on their own, your child may require surgery or other treatments.
A brachial plexus injury usually causes intense pain from the neck down on the affected side. People with brachial plexus injuries sometimes report the arm has a pins and needles sensation or feels like it is on fire.
Other symptoms include:
- Loss of strength in the affected arm or hand
- Limp or paralyzed arm
- Lack of muscle control in the arm, hand or wrist
- Lack of feeling or sensation in the arm or hand
- Eyelid droop and small pupil
- An internally rotated and abducted arm and wrist
- Scapular winging
- Phrenic nerve damage
It is estimated that one or two out of 1,000 babies will experience injuries at birth. Most shoulder dystocia and Erb’s palsy injuries are caused by medical negligence as there are effective ways of managing this birthing situation to prevent injury. Many times, shoulder dystocia can be anticipated, and Caesarean sections should be arranged but are not due to medical negligence.
Many brachial plexus injuries are the result of medical malpractice and require the services of an attorney. If you believe your child was injured due to the negligence of a health care professional, there is legal help available to you. Our birth injury attorneys have extensive experience representing victims of brachial plexus injuries and have offices conveniently located in
If you would like to learn more about your child’s birth injury and what legal action you can take, contact Weiss & Paarz, P.C. today for your free consultation. We serve birth injury victims and their families throughout New Jersey and the Philadelphia, PA area.