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The Warning Signs of Erb’s Palsy

Posted by attorney Jared Everton

Childbirth brings with it many potential life-threatening complications, for both the mother and the child. There are times when the birth doesn’t go as intended, and the baby can get stuck in a compromising position inside of the mother’s womb. The child’s shoulders run the risk of getting stuck on the mother’s pelvic bone during delivery, and when this happens, the nerves of the baby’s necks are impaired, causing damage to its spinal cord. This damage can affect future movement and overall function of the fingers, hands, and arms—the damage to the spinal cord in this way is known as Erb’s Palsy. While some children that suffer this fate heal within 6-24 months, 10% will live with life-long injuries.

Regrettably, most cases of Erb’s Palsy could have been avoided with proper medical treatment. Because Erb’s Palsy can almost always be anticipated due to well-known risk factors, preventative measures are often taken to sidestep the injury.

What are the Risk Factors Related to Erb’s Palsy?

There are several risk factors that have the potential of causing Erb’s Palsy. These include:

  • Obese mother
  • Large baby
  • Overdue baby
  • Prolonged labor
  • Short or small mother
  • Small pelvis
  • Advanced age of mother
  • Abnormal weight gain during pregnancy

If the child or mother present one or more of these risk factors, the doctor may decide to perform a C-section to prevent the child from getting stuck during a traditional birth. The failure to identify and prevent Erb’s Palsy from occurring is an obvious example of medical negligence. Doctors and their medical staff are equipped with technology meant to prevent such tragedies, and it is the right of the patient and their family to expect caution and precision from those entrusted to care for them.

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