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Are Cerebral palsy and Erbs palsy birth injuries?

August 13th, 2014
On behalf of David Bowling of The Bowling Christiansen Law Firm, A Professional Law Corporation posted in Birth Injuries on Wednesday, August 13, 2014.

Two types of injuries that can happen to a baby at childbirth are Cerebral palsy and Erbs palsy. This post describes how these two afflictions can occur, and their effects.

Cerebral palsy: Arises from a brain injury. It can take place before, during or after childbirth. During birth, this condition may be caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain, which may in turn be the result of failure to resort to a cesarean section when necessary or resorting to it too late. It can also happen during childbirth if a blunt trauma to the baby’s head takes place, causing bleeding in the brain.

Symptoms of Cerebral palsy may include slower-than-normal progress in developing certain body movements, like rolling over, crawling, talking or even smiling. It can also reveal itself in other physical ways, such as problems with posture, poor coordination, or lack of muscle development.

Erbs palsy: Also referred to as “Brachial” palsy, is the result of damage to nerves leading from the spine through the arms and to the hands. It may be caused during difficult deliveries, particularly with babies that weigh more than average, if too much pressure is placed on the child’s head, neck or on a shoulder, possibly by the use of forceps or a vacuum device.

Symptoms of this condition affect the use of the infant’s arms, particularly the ability to flex or rotate them. As long as the nerves are not torn, this condition may eventually go away with proper treatment; but if the nerves are damaged, some of the effects may become permanent or at least require surgery to correct.

What these two afflictions have in common is that both may have originated from a birth injury if too much pressure is applied to the newborn’s head during the delivery, or if a cesarean section is either not performed when advisable or is not undertaken in a timely manner. Both can result in physical effects such as restricted movement, although Cerebral palsy has more severe effects.

From the viewpoint of whether medical malpractice may have been the cause, Cerebral palsy differs from Erbs palsy in part because of the variety of ways in which it may be caused, which aside from a childbirth injury, may also include factors that came into play while the baby was still in the womb, or after delivery.

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