If your child has shoulder dystocia or a brachial plexus injury from birth, our Philadelphia birth injury lawyers can help you seek the compensation that you and your baby deserve. Call 1-800-590-4116 for a free, initial consultation.
Shoulder Dystocia is a condition caused by the weakness of the arm in infants, with the situation directly related to the brachial plexus; a group of nerves integrated into the shoulder. Injury to these nerves is caused by damage to these nerves and is referred to as neonatal brachial plexus palsy, or NBPP. The condition has many implications but before we get to that, let’s talk a bit about the causes in infants.
What are the causes of Brachial Plexus Injury or Shoulder Dystocia?
It all begins with birth, and none of these conditions inflicted by medical professionals are intentional (though some might be a direct result of neglect). Some of the causes can include:
- Infant’s head pulling to the side as the shoulders pass through birth canal
- Infants shoulders become stretched during delivery
- Pressure on raised arms during a breech delivery
These causes are common, and while they can typically be subverted, sometimes the situation is completely unavoidable. While breech delivery plays a huge role in the situation, there are some other factors that come into the picture, for example a larger than average newborn which often occurs in the case of a diabetic mother. Today, the cases of shoulder dystocia have been significantly reduced due to improvement in birthing techniques such as Caesarean delivery which is now employed where there are concerns with delivery. Keep in mind however that while Caesarean delivery does significantly reduce the risk of injury it does not remove the risk entirely. Additionally, a C-Section carries other risks which are outside the scope of this article.
The Symptoms of Shoulder Dystocia
There are plenty of symptoms to watch out for in shoulder dystocia, all of which are going to be immediately obvious to both the parents and the caregiver. It begins with a lack of movement in the newborn’s arms, though this can extend to their hand. In addition to that, the arm could be flexed at the elbow and held against the body in an unusual way. Finally, the infant may have a decreased grip on the side that is affected – an issue that could affect them significantly later in life. The one important thing to remember with this situation is that while it is compared with pseudoparalysis, it does not involve nerve damage.
Diagnosis of the condition is simple and a physical exam typically shows that the infant has no movement in parts of the arm. There is a possibility that this condition can be treated with surgery, especially if no improvement has been observed when the baby reaches between three and nine months of age. Most babies, however, will recover within nine months. In spite of this, if your child is suffering from this condition, seeking compensation would not only be understandable, but necessary if for nothing more than to address the emotional distress associated with this issue.