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Can a doctor be responsible for a child born with Erb's Palsy?

As residents of New Haven, Connecticut, no doubt know, the process of childbirth can be extremely painful and highly complicated. Despite the utmost care demonstrated by doctors and nurses, both the mother and child can be at risk. Parents expect that the physicians in charge of deliveries are extremely careful and do their utmost to ensure the best of care. But there is still a chance that the doctor's actions can cause grievous damage to both the baby and the mother.

One type of birth injury is Erb's Palsy, which can paralyze an infant's arms and cause a loss of sensation in the fingers. This occurs as a result of an injury to the brachial plexus, or the nerves connecting the spinal cord and the arm. Most often the injury is caused by the application of excessive pressure when using forceps or a vacuum pump, during childbirth.

A doctor can be held liable for an Erb's Palsy-causing injury if, for instance, he or she does not realize that the baby might be larger than normal, which would necessitate performing a cesarean section. Should the baby's shoulders get stuck during delivery, a doctor who is not cautious may try to force the baby through the vaginal canal and this can cause the injury. Essentially, the doctor should remember at all times, no matter how difficult the birth, that areas such as a child's head, shoulder and neck are extremely sensitive to pressure.

It is difficult enough for parents to go through the process of childbirth. Having their child suffer a lasting injury is only more difficult to bear. While in some cases, the nerve damage can be temporary, in more serious cases the child may never have full use of his or her arms. The thought that this occurred as a result of a doctor's negligence may truly be unbearable.

Source:, "Birth Injuries: Cerebral Palsy and Erbs Palsy," Accessed on Aug. 14, 2014

Source:, "Birth Injuries: Cerebral Palsy and Erbs Palsy," Accessed on Aug. 14, 2014

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