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How a brachial plexus injury occurs

An expectant parent in New York might be concerned about the potential for a birth injury as the time for delivery approaches. It is helpful to know how injuries such as brachial plexus occur so that these issues can be discussed with a physician in advance of the delivery. As a physician evaluates risk factors for brachial plexus, plans may be made to use safe maneuvers or a cesarean section to protect a baby from this condition.

Brachial plexus occurs because of excessive force being used to deliver a child. In a situation involving shoulder dystocia, a top shoulder getting stuck and preventing a child from being delivered after the head emerges, pulling on the head to get the shoulder out could stretch the brachial plexus. This may cause nerves to be torn, resulting in mild to severe effects. Prevention of this type of birth injury is dependent on limiting the potential for the shoulder to become stuck. Additionally, delivery professionals are trained not to pull on a child's head in any situation.

Risk factors can range from characteristics of the child to characteristics of the mother. A large baby poses a greater risk for shoulder dystocia. A short stature or small pelvis in the mother could also pose a greater risk of brachial plexus. A mother who has gained excessive weight during the pregnancy or who has gestational diabetes might be at risk. A prior birth involving either shoulder dystocia or brachial plexus is also a sign of the potential for a repeat episode. Slow dilation or descent may indicate the possibility for this birth injury as well.

Because brachial plexus is attributed to pulling on a baby's head, the injury is preventable. Parents whose baby is born with this condition may want to consider discussing their situation with a medical malpractice attorney, particularly if the damage suffered by their child is significant.

Source: Birth Injury, "Brachial Plexus", November 03, 2014

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