Parents in Arizona may be interested in information about Erb's palsy, a rare birth defect that affects arm movement. The condition, which affects one or two out of every 1,000 infants, is often caused by stretching during a difficult delivery. Medical intervention is rarely necessary, and most infants recover arm feeling and movement within two years.
Named after one of the first doctors to describe the condition, Erb's palsy is a type of brachial plexus palsy. This plexus is a network of nerves from which all the arm's nerves originate. Located by the neck, the brachial plexus can be damaged during birth if the baby's neck stretches to the side.
The condition is a type of brachial plexus palsy that impacts the upper nerves of the arm. Infants with the condition may not be able to move the shoulder but can usually move the fingers. Other symptoms include loss of sensation in the arm.
Erb's palsy can be diagnosed by a physician and usually does not require treatment. Parents can aid recovery by doing arm exercises with the baby. If there is no improvement after about six months, surgery could be advised.
Most babies with Erb's palsy recover most feeling and function of the arm. However, in some children, the condition can cause the affected arm to grow slower. As the child gets older, the difference in the sizes of the arms may be noticeable. Some children also experience continuing weakness in the arm.
When a baby is diagnosed with an injury that was caused during the delivery, health care professionals may be guilty of medical malpractice. In some cases, certain birth injuries may be considered to have been unavoidable. A negative outcome after medical treatment is only malpractice if it can be proven that a medical professional deviated from the standard of care.