What is Erb’s palsy?

Couples in the Los Angeles area who are having a baby are undoubtedly excited, but that does not diminish the reality that there are potential dangers to the health of the newborn. These can arise without warning and happen during the delivery process. One potential issues is Erb’s palsy. For parents who suspect that their baby suffered injuries at birth resulting in Erb’s palsy, it is important to know the details as to how it happened.

During a vaginal delivery, Erb’s palsy is an injury to the nerve fibers of the baby. It occurs when there is a stretching of the head and shoulders if the newborn is pulled in different directions when coming out of the birth canal. While this often heals on its own, it can also be a long-term problem with the accompanying medical expenses to treat the infant. Symptoms of this include a weakening of the upper arm and in rotating the lower arm. It often happens on one side of the baby’s body. There could even be a permanent loss of function in the nerves that have been affected, with weakness and paralysis along with it.

Knowing how to recognize the symptoms is key. If the baby has his or her arm flexed and held close to the body; if there is a reduced grip on the side that has been affected; if the Moro reflex – a natural reaction when left unsupported – is absent; and if there is an absence of spontaneous movement in the arm or hand, it is a sign of Erb’s palsy.

Erb’s palsy frequently occurs in babies whose shoulders get caught on the mother’s pubic bone, also known as shoulder dystocia. If the baby is considered big, and if the delivery is feet first, this can also result in Erb’s palsy. Surgery and physical therapy can help a baby afflicted with Erb’s palsy regain normal movement, but it is not always guaranteed and can cause undue strain on the baby and the parents. If parents think that a medical mistake made during the delivery process caused the baby to suffer from Erb’s palsy, it is important to gather all the relevant information and discuss the matter with an attorney to consider a birth injury case.

Source:, “Erb’s Palsy,” Dr. Edward Kulich, accessed on June 23, 2015

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