Knowledgeable and Experienced Guidance

What is Erb’s palsy?

On Behalf of | Jan 11, 2024 | Birth Injuries |

Welcoming a new life into the world is an exhilarating experience filled with anticipation and joy.

Parents-to-be eagerly anticipate the arrival of their bundle of joy, envisioning a healthy and happy future. However, sometimes unforeseen challenges can arise during childbirth, one of which is Erb’s palsy.

What is Erb’s palsy?

Erb’s palsy is a condition that affects the nerves in a newborn’s arm, often caused by injury during childbirth. It typically occurs when there is excessive stretching of the baby’s neck and shoulder nerves, leading to weakness or paralysis in the affected arm.

The shoulder dystocia connection

The primary cause of Erb’s palsy is shoulder dystocia, a situation where the baby’s head passes through the birth canal, but the shoulders become stuck behind the mother’s pelvic bone. This challenging scenario can put immense pressure on the baby’s delicate nerves, leading to potential injury.

The factors at play

Several factors can contribute to the occurrence of Erb’s palsy during childbirth. Large birth weight, prolonged labor and the improper use of delivery instruments are common culprits. Additionally, a breech birth, where the baby is feet-first instead of head-first, increases the risk.

Signs and symptoms

Recognizing the signs of Erb’s palsy is important for early intervention. Parents should be vigilant if their newborn exhibits weakness or inability to move one arm, reduced grip strength or a lack of reflexes in the affected limb. Prompt identification and medical attention are necessary to ensure the best possible outcome.

While one of the most common birth injuries, at an estimated rate of between 0.9 to 2.6 per 1,000 live births, it is still overwhelming news to receive. While unforeseen complications may arise, knowledge empowers parents to navigate these situations with resilience and ensure the best possible care for their newborns.