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What causes Erb’s palsy?

On Behalf of | Sep 24, 2015 | Birth Injuries |

In a previous post, Erb’s Palsy, also known as brachial palsy, Erb-Duchenned paralysis, or Klumpke paralysis, was defined as a birth injury that results in damage to the upper nerves in the brachial plexus network. Your baby can experience an extended period of weakness and loss of motion. The injury typically occurs during your baby’s delivery. It happens in primarily three different ways.


Your baby can suffer nerve injury when he or she passes through the birth canal at an angle that causes the head to be pulled in one direction, and the arm in another. Another instance in which your baby may be injured happens when he or she presents face first, and his or her shoulders undergo excessive pulling during delivery.


According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, a breech birth is a third condition by which your baby can experience a birth injury. In a breech position, your baby’s arms can be positioned overhead, causing them to stretch forcefully when the delivering physician pulls on your baby’s feet. In addition to nerve damage to the brachial plexus, the violent pulling may also cause your baby to suffer a dislocated shoulder.


Shoulder dystocia, a condition in which the baby’s head is delivered normally, but one shoulder becomes stuck under the mother’s pelvic bone, raises the risk for Erb’s Palsy. Your medical team will most likely attempt to shift the baby’s position through massage and light pressure. If those techniques fail to work, surgery may be the next step. The use of forceps or other vacuum extraction implements are not generally could also contribute to debilitating nerve damage to your infant.