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Did Your Newborn Suffer Cerebral
Palsy or Another Brain Injury Before
or During Labor and Delivery?

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Our Birth Brain Injury Resource Guide

the guide

Get a FREE guide of resources available throughout Ohio to children and families of children who were born with brain injuries.

Our guide can help you build a foundation of knowledge and tools that will help you help your child
now and in the future.

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Birth Paralysis – Symptoms

Paralysis of an infant at birth may be harder to diagnose than you might think. When you think of paralysis, you may picture someone who cannot move their legs or arms. However, paralysis can affect more than the limbs. Certain conditions can cause paralysis of the face or of one limb, which may be less noticeable in a newborn than in an older person.

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Partial paralysis

When a person has partial paralysis, they can still move their limbs or the affected area in many cases. The limb may experience weakness or even paralysis on occasion but not all of the time. The condition can start out with a tingling sensation, numbness or weakness even though the person can still use their limb.

A prime example is with Klumpke’s palsy. This condition can cause paralysis of the forearm or hand. In mild cases, it may be impossible to detect a problem. Because an infant cannot tell you how they feel, you must notice if they do not move one arm as much as the other one. They may fail to progress with fine motor skills in the one hand because of the condition.

Facial Paralysis

Elk & Elk

In more severe cases, the infant will be unable to move one side of the face. Their mouth may droop, and they may have difficulty latching on to a nipple. Milk may drain out one side of the mouth, and that side of the face may appear drawn up.

In milder cases, it may be difficult to tell that there is any facial paralysis. Watching movements of the face and noticing if both sides appear the same will help you diagnose the condition. If you are concerned about how the infant’s facial muscles work, you should see your doctor.

Total Paralysis

An infant with total paralysis is likely to be unable to move certain areas of the body. In addition, some body functions such as elimination may not work. The baby may have difficulty breathing, depending on the location of the injury that caused the paralysis.

In most cases that are moderate to severe, it will be easy to tell that something is wrong. The infant will not be able to move or have control of their limbs. They will likely have arms or legs that hang limp. With some situations, the affected limb may appear rigid instead.

If your infant does not move their limbs properly or something seems not to work right, you should contact your doctor. Paralysis is a symptom of an underlying condition that needs to be treated.