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Facts about newborn injuries

For Pennsylvania families, expecting a new baby is an exciting time. However, when the baby is born with a birth injury or defect, the family's joy can be quickly turned to concern.

Neonatal brachial plexus palsy gets its name from brachial plexus, the collection of nerves surrounding the shoulder. Damage to these nerves at birth can result in the baby's arm being weakened or unable to move. There are two different types of NBPP, depending on the degree of arm paralysis. The most common type is brachial plexus palsy, also called Erb-Duchenne paralysis, which affects just the upper arm. The second form, which is less common, is Klumpke paralysis. This form affects the hand and lower arm.

When NBPP occurs to babies at birth, it may be due to several factors such as if the physician put too much pressure on the infant's raised arms during a breech delivery or if the physician pulled the baby's neck and head too much to the side during the birth process. Breech deliveries and oversized babies can boost the risk for NBPP.

NBPP can be detected if the baby has a weakened grip or shows signs of an inability to lift his or her lower or upper arm or hand, or if the infant's arm appears bent at the elbow and is held against his or her body. The parent might wish to get x-rays to make sure that the baby's collarbone is not broken. Unless there are complications, most babies will be fully recovered by three to nine months.

While NBPP is not as common as it once was, there are other risks associated with the birth of a baby. Parents who believe that negligence was a factor in their infant's birth injuries might benefit from the advice of a medical malpractice attorney.

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

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