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Understanding neonatal brachial plexus palsy

Any trauma that occurs to a newborn’s brachial plexus, or the set of nerves around the shoulder, can result in arm weakness or the inability of the newborn to move that appendage. Oklahoma residents who are expecting a child may want to learn about neonatal brachial plexus palsy, or NBPP. It is a birth injury that occurs when the brachial plexus nerve is damaged.

There are three ways the brachial plexus nerve can be damaged during a delivery. The infant’s shoulder is stretched during a head-first delivery. During a breech delivery, pressure is exerted on the baby’s raised arms. The nerves can also be damaged if the infant’s head and neck are pulled towards the side as the shoulders move through the birth canal. NBPP has a higher risk of occurring if the baby larger than normal, is delivered feet-first or if there is difficulty with the passage of the shoulder through the birth canal after the baby’s head has already exited.

The different types of NBPP are distinguished by the degree of arm paralysis. If the paralysis affects only upper arm, it is referred to as Erb-Duchenne or Duchenne-Erb paralysis. Paralysis that affects the hand and lower arm occur less frequently than Erb-Duchenne and is referred to as Klumpke paralysis. NBPP tends to occur less frequently as delivery methods have been enhanced. Even though it does not prevent NBPP from occurring, a Cesarean delivery may be performed if there are indications that a delivery will be difficult.

The negligent behavior of medical professionals during a delivery can result in severe birth injuries, the effects of which can last for the rest of the child’s live. Parents whose children have been harmed in such a manner may want to meet with a medical malpractice attorney in order to see what options they may have.