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What are brachial plexus birth injuries?

Pittsburgh parents expecting a baby are filled with joy. The anticipated arrival of a newborn is one of the highlights of a family's experience together. But, occasionally a birth injury taints the birth experience and causes serious injury to the newborn. One such injury is a brachial plexus injury.

A brachial plexus injury in a newborn is an injury to the area of nerves between a baby's neck and shoulders. This injury occurs during childbirth and can have different causes. Usually stress on the baby's shoulders and neck area can cause the injury. It can happen during a prolonged labor, vacuum or forceps delivery, breech birth or large size baby.

A brachial plexus injury causes different kinds of problems for newborns depending on the type. In the most common type of brachial plexus injury, Neurapraxia, there are strains and tears found in the brachial plexus nerves. This can lead to muscle weakness and tingling and numbness in the affected area. Another type of brachial plexus injury is Erb's palsy. This occurs when the nerves in the upper arm are damaged. T can cause paralysis in the affected arm, loss of motor function or sensation in the affected arm and numbness in the arm.

Treatment for brachial plexus injuries can include surgery, physical therapy and medication. Many babies will be able to recover from the injury completely but some will suffer from permanent injuries.

A family who believes their newborn has suffered from a brachial plexus injury caused by a negligent physician may want to speak with a legal professional skilled in medical malpractice. An attorney can review the medical records and determine who caused the injury. Compensation may be available for medical expenses, future medical expenses, pain and suffering and other damages.

Source: Boston Children's Hospital, "Brachial plexus birth palsy in children," accessed on June 29, 2015

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