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Brachial Plexus Injury at Birth

How a Birth Injury Attorney Could Help

"Birth injury" is a loose term in the legal field to describe either a disability a child was born with or an injury an infant sustained during the delivery process. A brachial plexus injury falls into the latter category. Brachial plexus in newborns occurs when some sort of trauma, usually difficulty exiting the birth canal, causes the infant to lose movement completely or partially in their arm. A difficult delivery can damage the infant's nerves near their shoulder, resulting in brachial plexus.

Causes of Newborn Brachial Plexus

Brachial plexus is always a trauma-induced condition, but that trauma can take on many different forms. It is common for brachial plexus to be caused by:

  • The baby being larger than average
  • The position of the baby (breech or head first)
  • Additional measures to extract the baby
  • The shoulder getting stuck in a head-first delivery

In high-risk births, doctors need to act quickly to determine if any emergency measures need to be taken, such as a cesarean section. If they do not act quickly, the baby could sustain serious injury such as brachial plexus. While taking emergency measures does not guarantee that the baby will be delivered without injury, it can substantially mitigate this risk.

Types of Brachial Plexus

There are three major types of brachial plexus injuries –

  • Upper arm brachial plexus
  • Erb's palsy
  • Klumpke paralysis (affecting the hand)

Determining If a Baby Has Brachial Plexus

It is usually obvious that a baby has sustained a brachial plexus injury. After a difficult delivery, if a baby is not moving their arm, their hand, or has a weakened grip, then the baby may have brachial plexus. Further testing is needed if the baby appears to have suffered this type of injury.

Brachial plexus is not always permanent. In fact, it is common for babies to heal by the time they reach six months. However, more severe brachial plexus injuries might require surgery and may never fully heal. Brachial plexus injuries that never heal might cause the baby to experience muscle spasms or partial/total loss of function for the rest of his or her life.

If you believe your baby's brachial plexus injury was caused by your doctor's negligence, we invite you to contact our attorneys today to learn your legal rights and options.

888.880.5063
One Embarcadero Center, Suite 500
San Francisco, CA 94111
(415) 275-3133
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