When delivering a baby, you count on the doctors and nurses to do everything possible to keep you and your baby safe and healthy. In some cases, though, complications may occur. In rare instances, a difficult delivery may lead to a condition known as Erb’s palsy or brachial plexus palsy. While some cases of Erb’s palsy clear up on their own within a matter of months, others may have lifelong effects on your child.
What is Erb’s palsy, what causes it, and are there certain factors that may make your child more susceptible to it?
Named for the doctor who first described it, Erb’s palsy refers to a weakness in the network of nerves close to the neck that work in conjunction with the nerves in the arm. These are the nerves responsible for your child’s arm, shoulder, hand and finger movements, and any harm to them may impact the functionality of the entire arm.
Most of the time, Erb’s palsy occurs when a doctor stretches the baby’s neck too far during a difficult delivery. Typically, this happens when the baby is large or in the breech position, or when your labor carries on longer than it should.
Signs and symptoms
Because your baby is unable to alert you to any problems, knowing the signs of Erb’s palsy is important if you suspect your child may have it. Your child may experience weakness or loss of feeling in one of his or her arms when the condition is present. In more extreme cases, your child may experience partial or total paralysis of the arm.