Brachial Plexus and Erb’s Palsy

Sometimes during childbirth, the baby’s shoulder becomes stuck behind the mother’s pubic symphysis. This condition encountered during labor is called a shoulder dystocia. There are several ways that nurses and obstetricians are trained to manage shoulder dystocia. In a successful case, the baby’s shoulder will be dislodged and the baby will be delivered without injury. However, in an improperly managed shoulder dystocia, the baby’s shoulder remains wedged as the obstetrician delivers the baby resulting in an injury to the baby’s brachial plexus. A permanent brachial plexus injury results in Erb’s palsy. The severity of the injury to the nerves of the brachial plexus determines the degree of disability.

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