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Force and pressure during delivery may result in nerve damage

Unfortunately, brachial plexus birth palsy, Erb’s palsy, and other conditions arising from nerve damage continue to affect children in New York. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, brachial plexus birth palsy is usually a condition that results from injury to newborns caused by those who deliver or assist in delivery when the nerves connected to a baby’s fingers, arm, hand or neck are stretched. Less than one percent of newborns develop brachial plexus palsy. The seriousness of a condition is usually diagnosed by a pediatrician through an examination of weakness in a baby’s arm. 

The most severe type of nerve damage, known as avulsion, occurs when a nerve is ruptured and separated or torn away from the spinal cord. This type of damage may be permanent. Other forms of nerve damage, also caused by stretching and strain on the neck or head during delivery, may result. If the injury is severe enough to cause scar tissue to form and affect healthy nerves, the damage caused may be permanent. If the upper nerves are damaged but not the lower nerves, the condition is known as Erb’s palsy. Usually these injuries occur during a difficult delivery.

Several symptoms may be present when there has been brachial plexus nerve damage, as noted by John Hopkins Medicine. Avulsion results in “a burning, crushing type of pain.” Other symptoms include paralysis, other pain, weakness and numbness or loss of feeling.

Brachial plexus nerve damage can be avoided if a doctor ensures proper use of delivery equipment and proper application of force and pressure during delivery. Brachial plexus nerve damage can be prevented when a doctor correctly diagnoses the need for a cesarean section. 

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