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Erb's palsy causes paralysis in babies following birth

Erb-Duchenne Palsy, commonly referred to as "Erb's palsy" or brachial plexus birth palsy, is a medical condition that occurs to babies in 1 out of every 1,000 births. It's one type of obstetric brachial plexus injuries that affect Illinois infants, and it is characterized by paralysis, weakness and loss of motion in the arm and shoulder. Erb's palsy usually occurs during the birth process as a result of a birth injury.

The brachial plexus is a collection of five nerve fibers that stem from the spinal cord to the arm. The nerves are responsible for conveying sensations to the brain and moving the arm. Erb's palsy occurs when these nerves are stretched as a result of the baby's head and shoulder being moved in opposite directions. When these fibers become damaged, they can no longer convey these messages resulting in loss of sensation and movement.

Risk factors for Erb's palsy include the use of forceps during delivery, large babies, small mothers, excessive weight gain during pregnancy, vacuum extraction, delivery of another baby with Erb's palsy or second-stage labor that lasts more than one hour. The condition is typically diagnosed with magnetic resonance imaging and electromyogram tests that look at the nerves in the arm. Though sometimes Erb's palsy resolves on its own within the first few months of the baby's life, surgery and physical therapy are often required to help regain movement in the arm.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, many birth defects result from birth injuries that often require frequent tests, doctor appointments, surgery and follow-up medical care in order to help the infant. Doctors who behave negligently while delivering the baby may be responsible for damages to the baby's family as a result of medical malpractice. A lawyer may help a family determine if medical malpractice did occur and help the family get compensation for the baby's medical needs.

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