Brachial Plexus and Erb’s Palsy Injuries
Erb’s Palsy is a common birth defect from difficult deliveries. It results from a stretch injury to the brachial plexus (a network of nerves near the neck) which causes limited mobility in the shoulder. This in turn can affect the ability to use the affected arm.
Erb’s Palsy can result from the baby’s shoulder becoming stuck in the mother’s pelvis (shoulder dystocia) during the course of delivery. Erb’s Palsy in particular may occur with large babies, in prolonged labour or in a breach in presentation. It can also happen when force is exerted too quickly to remove the baby from the birth canal.
There are a number of standard and approved manoeuvres which should be taken including applying suprapubic pressure and the McRobert’s position in order to assist delivery of the impacted shoulder.
Brachial plexus injuries i.e. Erb’s palsy may often be avoided if midwives and obstetricians recognise where there is a possible case of shoulder dystocia and arrange for a cesarean section.