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Birth Injuries and Erb's Palsy

There are very few people that travel to the hospital in a happy mood; however, one of the happiest trips of a young couple's life together is that trip to the hospital to deliver a child. Childbirth is one of the miracles of nature and most couples just want the child to be healthy. While most babies are born without issue, some babies are born with medical problems.

Some of these problems are unavoidable; however, other birth problems can result from either negligence or medical malpractice. Even though these injuries occur early in life, some injuries can lead to lifelong disabilities that the child will never recover from. 

The Birthing Process

During childbirth, the baby leaves the uterus through the dilated cervix and passes into the vaginal canal. As the mom pushes the baby out of the canal, the baby will have to pass through the bony pelvis. While most babies fit through the pelvis without a problem, sometimes the baby can get stuck on the bony pelvis. Perhaps the baby has a shoulder stuck on the pelvis or in some cases the child is simply too large. When the child gets stuck, the physician is forced to take action to dislodge the child and continue with the labor and delivery process.

Treatment Options

If a child is stuck in childbirth, the physician can try several different tactics to dislodge the child. The physician could enlist the help of forceps, the physician could try to deliver the posterior arm first, or the physician could even try to deliver the child via C-section. During the process, the child's arm could wind up in traction, stretching the limb and the nerves that power it. This could lead to an injury called a brachial plexus injury, causing serious nerve damage in the child's arm.

Brachial Plexus Injury: Erb's Palsy

If there is traction placed on the arm of the child, the brachial plexus could tear. Erb's Palsy is an injury to the upper trunk of the brachial plexus, or the C5 and C6 nerves. When these nerves are torn, the baby will lose sensation in the arm and the deltoid, bicep, and brachialis muscles will be paralyzed. The arm will hang by the side of the baby and will be rotated towards midline. The forearm will be pronated over and forced into extension. For a visual, many people call this posture the "waiter's tip" posture. In most cases, this injury is permanent.

Erb's Palsy is only one of several injuries that can result during the childbirth process. Children can recover from some injuries; however, others will lead to disabilities that the child and the parents will have to live with for the rest of their lives. These medical bills can be expensive and any family that is dealing with birth injuries may benefit significantly from contacting an attorney for a consultation.

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