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Understanding neonatal brachial plexus palsy

Whenever a mother delivers her baby, there is the underlying concern that the baby could suffer an injury. Complications during the birth process could lead to the injuries to the baby's brain, nerves or muscles, for example. New York parents may be interested in learning more about a birth injury called neonatal brachial plexus palsy.

NBPP occurs whenever the cluster of brachial plexus nerves that surround the baby's shoulder is injured during the delivery process. This can happen if the baby's neck and head were pulled toward the side when his or her shoulders passed through the birth canal or if the baby's shoulders were stretched during a headfirst delivery.

When a baby's brachial plexus nerves become damaged, the baby's arm is weakened and there is a loss of movement. Also referred to as Duchenne-Erb paralysis, NBPP can range from common to serious. In common cases, the baby is left with upper arm injuries, which are noticeable if there is no movement in the lower or upper arm or hand. Most commonly, this type of injury typically takes three to nine months to heal.

In more severe cases of NBPP, the baby's lower hand and arm are affected. This type of injury is particularly referred to as Klumpke paralysis. Though not as common as NBPP, it can occur during breech deliveries, in babies that are above the average-sized newborn and in babies who, because of their wide shoulders, caused difficulties during delivery.

Many babies who suffer a birth defect or injury could be left with a life-long disability as a result. In such cases, if the mother suspects the injuries were because of the negligence of a doctor, nurse or other medical practitioner, she might want to meet with an attorney to see how to proceed.

Source:, "Brachial plexus injury in newborns", Oct. 28, 2016

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