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What is Erb’s palsy?

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP

It’s a tragedy unlike any other a parent can experience. You carry a precious life for nine months, nurturing it and planning for its future. You paint the baby’s bedroom and plan routes to the hospital a hundred times. Then, thanks in part to someone else’s negligence, a birth injury occurs and your little one’s life can change forever.

It’s called Erb’s palsy and it affects about two babies out of 1,000 deliveries. It’s an extremely frightening thing to behold, especially for the new parents: the baby’s arm will hang limply by its side and he or she is often incapable of moving the fingers on that arm. His or her arm may also be held tightly against the body. It’s a difficult thing to witness, but is it just a freak accident or is someone to blame?

Erb’s palsy usually happens as a result of too much pressure on the neck, head and shoulders of the infant during delivery, especially when the delivering obstetrician or physician uses forceps or vacuum instruments during the birth. It can also occur when:

  • The physician fails to know when a cesarean is called for.
  • The physician exerts too much pressure on the neck, shoulder and head area of the infant during delivery.

The parents of victims of these types of occurrences are usually in shock and may not know what steps to take. However, an attorney who works with birth injuries can take a look at the case and see whether the victims may be entitled to compensation for injuries.

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