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Common birth injury is avoidable with proper medical care

Birth injuries are a devastating way to start life. Injuries incurred at birth will have lasting effects on the infant's development and quality of life. Sometimes birth injuries are unavoidable and last a lifetime. One of the most common birth injuries is Erb's Palsy, which results in weakness or inability of movement of an infant's arm. Expectant Maryland mothers should be aware that even if this injury is common, it can be avoided with skilled medical attention.

Erb-Duchenne Palsy occurs during delivery when the infant's shoulder gets lodged against the pelvic bone of the mother. The condition, known as shoulder dystocia, should be immediately recognized by a doctor so that a particular procedure can be done to safely deliver the baby. If the maneuver is done incorrectly or if the doctor fails to recognize the condition, the infant's nerve tissue can be torn or stretched, causing nerve damage.

Doctors should be aware of the signs that often lead to Erb's Palsy, such as birth weight more than eight pounds, 14 ounces, a mother with a flat pelvis, who is overweight, or who has a short stature and a pregnancy that extends more than 40 weeks. Other signs include maternal diabetes and an extended second stage of labor. Knowing the signs can help prevent Erb's Palsy. Techniques that require repositioning the baby or the mother to ensure a safe delivery can be utilized. A doctor also can perform a cesarean section, or in extreme cases, break the mother's pelvic bone so as to deliver the baby injury-free.

Erb's Palsy may require a baby to have surgery. Even with surgery, full use of the baby's arm may not be restored. Maryland mothers with babies who developed Erb's Palsy because of delivery errors and the negligence of a doctor may file a medical malpractice lawsuit. The claim may lead to compensation to help with treatment and other damages.

Source: News Inferno, "Erb's Palsy may Lead to Lifelong Injuries, is Often Preventable," Cynthia A. Diaz-Shephard, June 12, 2014

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