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How does Erb's palsy occurs in children?

The delivery of a child is by no means an easy process, as residents of New Haven, Connecticut surely know. It can be a stressful time for the mother as well as the rest of the family and the experience of the doctor is of paramount importance. Further, any birth injury can have significant consequences on the child's growth and development, which also necessitates that a highly skilled specialist conducts the birth.

The manner in which the child is brought out of the birth canal can injure the baby, especially if the head or neck or upper arms are put under pressure. This region houses the set of nerves called the brachial plexus, and a birth injury to this part alone can paralyze the child's arm. When this paralysis affects the upper as well as lower arm, it is referred to by the term Erb's palsy.

Children who are thus affected may displayed feebler arm movement for as much as six months, during which time gentle massaging of the arm is recommended. In the event there is prolonged lack of development, beyond this timeframe, the child may need more specialized treatment and even surgery. It is also possible that the pressure exerted on the shoulders or neck during birth results in a fracture of the collarbone.

Although modern methods may have offered alternatives which are safer, the doctor needs to identify the situation correctly and ensure that the preferred procedure is followed. For instance, there are greater chances of an injury to the brachial plexus if the baby is birthed through a feet-first delivery. The Caesarean section may be the better option when the delivery appears to be complicated. However, there are risks involved in any procedure which should be carefully considered by the doctor as well as the pregnant mother.

Source: Medline Plus, "Brachial plexus injury in newborns," Accessed on Sept. 4, 2014

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