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Home Birth Injury Brachial Plexus Injury

Orlando Brachial Plexus Injury Attorneys


Help for Brachial Plexus Injuries Suffered During Childbirth

During childbirth, babies are exceptionally vulnerable. One rare but dangerous complication of the labor and delivery is shoulder dystocia, which occurs when the baby’s head has exited the birth canal, but the baby’s shoulder gets stuck on the mother’s pelvic bone. (Dystocia simply means "difficult birth.")

Though there is wide variation in reports regarding how frequently shoulder dystocia occurs, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) estimates that this complication occurs during at least one in every 200 childbirths per year in the United States. Shoulder dystocia is a complication that must be resolved quickly before the baby runs out of oxygen and suffers brain damage as a result. However, when doctors become too aggressive in trying to remove a baby from the birth canal, this can also result in injuries, most commonly an injury to the baby’s brachial plexus.

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What Is a Brachial Plexus Injury?

The brachial plexus is a bundle of nerves that sits under the collarbone between the neck and the shoulder. These nerves are responsible for sending signals between the spine and the shoulder, hand, and arm.

When doctors pull on or twist the infant’s neck and head during delivery, these nerves can be stretched, compressed, or torn from the spinal cord. Stretched nerves may recover on their own after a few months, but torn nerves in the brachial plexus may mean permanent paralysis for the child. There are two main varieties of obstetric brachial plexus injuries: Erb’s palsy and Klumpke’s palsy. Both conditions were named for the doctors who first reported them.

  • Erb’s palsy: This injury occurs when the upper portion of the brachial plexus has been damaged, and the upper portions of the arm - the shoulder and elbow - become weak or paralyzed. The baby may experience a loss of sensation, and at times, the infant’s arm may hang limply at his or her side.
  • Klumpke’s palsy: This injury occurs when the lower portion of the brachial plexus is damaged. The baby’s forearm, wrist, and/or hand is affected, causing numbness and loss of mobility in these areas. The hand will often form a claw with tightened fingers.

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Brachial Plexus Injuries and Medical Malpractice

Medical professionals are trained to assist in labor and delivery in a way that will prevent needless harm to the mother and the infant. There are known risk factors for brachial plexus injuries, and when these injuries occur, it is often the result of a doctor either failing to identify these risks or responding to them too forcefully. Unfortunately, obstetric brachial plexus injuries are more common now than they ever have been, with at least 5,420 newborns suffering this injury every year in the U.S.

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Speak with a Lawyer Today

If your child suffered a brachial plexus injury at birth, it may be the case that this injury could have been prevented. If so, you may be eligible for compensation to help pay for the ongoing costs associated with your child’s injury. Call our Orlando medical malpractice attorneys at Faiella & Gulden, P.A., at (407) 647-6111. We will review your case, and if your child is entitled to compensation, we will fight to get it for you.

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