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Understanding brachial plexus injuries in newborns

Having a baby should be a time filled with immense joy. However, many parents suffer anxiety thinking about the possible birth injuries that might occur during delivery. One of the most common birth injuries is a brachial plexus injury.

The brachial plexus is a group of nerves near the shoulder that controls muscle movement in the hand, wrist, arm, elbow and shoulder. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, one in every 1,000 babies born sustains a brachial plexus injury. 

Commonly, damage to the brachial plexus occurs during a delivery from one of the following reasons, including:

  • Stretching of the neck
  • Cutting of the nerves
  • Pressure from swelling caused by breakage

Brachial plexus injuries can cause several symptoms. The most common symptom often includes loss of movement or feeling in one arm. In some cases, a brachial plexus injury can result in complete paralysis from a baby's shoulder to his or her fingers, which is commonly known as Erb's palsy.

Some newborns who are diagnosed with Erb's palsy will recover within one to two years on their own. However, it is important to continue seeing a doctor to make sure your child's condition is improving. While physical therapy can help restore the damage from Erb's palsy in some cases, some injuries to the brachial plexus can cause permanent damage.

If you believe your baby's brachial plexus injury was caused by a birth injury, consult with a medical malpractice attorney to determine if a lawsuit is right for you.

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