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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

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

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now and in the future.

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Many things can go wrong during the delivery of an infant. One of the least publicized birth delivery issues is called shoulder dystocia. The birth canal problem occurs when one or both of an infant’s shoulders become stuck in the birth canal. Doctors implement immediate steps to extract the baby from the womb or else the infant and/or the mother can incur serious injuries that might cause death.

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Health care professionals call one of the most common injuries that result from shoulder nerve damage brachial plexus palsy.

What is the Birth Delivery Condition?

Elk & Elk

The brachial plexus manipulates the movement of the nerves in both arms. Nerves are circular vessels that contain myriad microscopic fibers that send signals from the brain to control muscles in every section of the body. The best comparison for you to understand nerve function is to think of an electrical cord and the dozens of thin wires that comprise the channels for transmitting electrical impulses.

The location of the nerve damage, as well as the severity of the injury, determine the type of palsy. Healthcare professionals refer to the term palsy as the inability to move muscles in an area of the body that receives severe nerve damage.

Who is at Risk for the Birth Delivery Disorder?

Since palsy derives from the onset of shoulder nerve damage, the risk factors for the long-term debilitating medical ailment are mostly the same risk factors for the condition that prevents infants from moving through the birth canal. Larger and heavier than average infants place mothers at a much higher risk of experiencing shoulder dystocia. The pelvic area is simply not large enough to support the clean delivery of a heavy and large infant. A Caesarean section incision enlarges the delivery area, but physicians must still move the infant’s shoulder subtly to prevent nerve damage to the hands, arms, and/or shoulders.

Another risk factor for the development of nerve damage is the careless handling of the infant by an obstetrician. Excessive stretching and forced movements of an infant can easily damage the nerves in one or both of the arms and shoulders. The use of a forceps or a medical vacuum can cause nerve damage by exerting too much pressure on the delicate muscles of an infant. Medical malpractice requires the expertise of an experienced attorney to litigate in your favor for the pain and suffering caused by the incompetence.

In some cases, gestational diabetes produces the conditions for the development of an infant shoulder nerve injury. Weak neck muscles and the obesity of a mother can also trigger palsy that results from shoulder nerve damage.

Other Possible Risk Factors

Even if a doctor does not use birth assistant tools to dislodge the shoulders of an infant, he or she can cause brachial plexus palsy by applying an inordinate amount of pressure on an infant’s arms and shoulders. Doctors often resort to desperate measures when shoulder dystocia occurs and the infant is coming out of the womb feet first. Finally, the power and frequency of a mother’s contractions can place too much pressure on an infant’s arms and shoulders, which leads to muscle bruising and tearing that significantly damages the nerves. Then, one of the types of palsy develops and requires immediate treatment and long-term physical therapy.