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Nerve damage at birth can paralyze the baby's shoulder

The human body controls itself using a complex system of nerves that ultimately connect to the brain. Damage to any of these nerves can affect your ability to move or feel, a frightening prospect for most people.

Now imagine that a child suffers a nerve injury at birth, because the doctor delivering them was negligent. Perhaps the damage will pass. Or maybe the child will face a lifetime of disability.

For instance, the brachial plexus is a network of nerves that runs between the spine and shoulder, arm and hand. Damage to one side affects that side’s arm.

At birth, if the delivery is difficult, labor can become prolonged. As the Mayo Clinic’s website explains, the infant might get wedged inside the birth canal. The upper nerves in the brachial plexus can become damaged, leading to a condition known as Erb’s palsy. A severe enough injury can cost the child function in their shoulder. Complications can include weakness or paralysis.

Few things could be more painful that learning your newborn child has suffered a disability. Especially if the disability is a result of an obstetrician’s negligence. Perhaps the case called for a Cesarean section, but the doctor failed to notice or make the correct call. Or he or she misused an instrument and harmed the child.

Doctors owe their patients a duty of due care. Falling short of that duty during delivery can put mother and child in grave danger. Negligent doctors can be held responsible for their actions in civil court.

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