Brachial Plexus Palsy (BPP), also known as Erb's Palsy or Brachial Plexus Injury (BPI)

Brachial Plexus Palsy (BPP), also known as Erb's Palsy or Brachial Plexus Injury (BPI) can occur when damage is caused to nerves in the baby's shoulder during birth. Complications include permanent, partial, or total loss of function of the limb and affected nerves and symptoms include a limp or paralyzed arm, lack of muscle control in the arm, hand, or wrist, and lack of feeling or sensation in the arm or hand.

This can occur when the baby's shoulder gets caught and stretched behind the pelvic bone during delivery. For example, it can occur if the infant's head and neck are pulled toward the side as the shoulders pass through the birth canal. The condition can also be caused by excessive pulling on the shoulders during a vertex delivery (head first) or by pressure on the raised arms during a breech delivery (feet first).

Larger babies are at a higher risk for deliveries that involve damage to their shoulder, and thus at higher risk for Erb's palsy. For the same reason, mothers who have a smaller pelvic opening will also have a greater risk for delivering an infant with Erb's palsy. Other risk factors include maternal diabetes, prolonged labor, and an infant that presents in the breech position or induction of labor.

The infant may have varying degrees of arm paralysis as follows:

  • Brachial plexus injuries typically affect only the upper arm;
  • Erb's paralysis affects the upper arm and rotation of the lower arm; and
  • Klumpke paralysis affects the hand (the infant may also have an eyelid droop on the opposite side).


Blog for Brachial Plexus/Erb’s Palsy

Library for Brachial Plexus/Erb’s Palsy:

  • New York Erb’s Palsy: An Overview   
    Erb’s Palsy is a birth injury that usually affects one arm. Read more about the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of Erb’s Palsy in this library article. If your child has Erb’s Palsy, please contact a New York birth injury lawyer at 1-800-PAGAN-911.

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