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Babies might suffer a brachial plexus injury during birth

A lot of variables make labor and delivery dangerous for a mother and her baby. One variable that shouldn't have to make that list is negligent medical professionals; however, some women do have to deal with injuries to her or her baby that are caused by the actions of the medical staff.

During the birth, medical staff dealing with the mother and baby must take care not to harm the baby. One of the injuries that can occur during birth is a brachial plexus injury. When the brachial plexus is injured, the baby can suffer disturbing effects.

There are a few risk factors for brachial plexus injuries. These include shoulder dystocia, a large baby and a breech delivery. Even when these risk factors are present, the chance of a brachial plexus injury is fairly small because of delivery techniques that have improved.

The brachial plexus is a bundle of nerves in the shoulder area. These nerves can be damaged if someone pulls on the baby's shoulders or if the baby's head and neck are pulled to the side when the shoulders are coming through the birth canal. The nerves can also be harmed during a breech delivery if the baby's arms are above the head and pressure is put on the arms.

Brachial plexus injuries can affect the ability of the baby to move his or her arms. In most cases, these injuries involve the upper arms. If a baby has Erb's paralysis, the upper and lower arm is affected. Klumpke paralysis will affect the baby's hand and might cause an eyelid droop that is on the opposite side of the body as the injury.

For babies that have brachial plexus injuries, recovery can take three to six months. This can be a trying time for the parents. If recovery isn't noticed within that period, the baby might need surgery. Parents of a baby who has a brachial plexus injury might choose to seek compensation for their baby's injury.

Source: MedlinePlus, "Brachial plexus injury in newborns," accessed Feb. 02, 2016

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