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Erb’s Palsy

(Erb-Duchenne Paralysis; Brachial Plexus Palsy)

Definition

Erb’s palsy weakness or paralysis in the arm that is usually noticed after birth.
Vaginal Birth
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Causes

Erb’s palsy is caused by stretching of the baby’s neck during labor and delivery. This can result in damage to the upper nerves of the neck and shoulder. The nerve damage can then cause certain muscles in the baby’s arm to be weak.
Stretching may be caused by:

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chance of delivering a baby with Erb’s palsy include:

Symptoms

Often, Erb’s palsy is discovered after birth due to the typical signs and symptoms, such as:

Diagnosis

You may be asked about your baby's symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Other tests may include:
Your baby may need imaging tests. This can be done with:
Your baby may need to have muscle and nerve activity recorded. This can be done with:

Treatment

Over time, the baby can recover movement. Feeling in the arm can also be recovered. In some cases, long-lasting damage can occur.
Talk with the doctor about the best treatment plan, which may include:
When your child is older, other treatments may be recommended, such as:

Prevention

To help reduce your baby’s chance of Erb’s palsy:

RESOURCES

Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians http://familydoctor.org

Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons http://orthoinfo.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Orthopaedic Association http://www.coa-aco.org

Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada http://www.sogc.org

References

Brachial plexopathy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated May 20, 2014. Accessed December 1, 2014.

Erb’s palsy. Patient UK website. Available at: http://patient.info/doctor/erbs-palsy-pro. Accessed January 12, 2014. Updated December 1, 2014.

Erb's palsy (brachial plexus birth injury). American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons Ortho Info website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00077. Updated October 2014. Accessed December 1, 2014.

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