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Erb's Palsy - Catching a Commonly Missed Birth Injury

As a collective group, newborn infants bear the greatest risk of developing Erb's Palsy. For every 2,000 births, about three infants will later develop the affliction, denoted by a marked lack of strength and maneuverability in the upper and lower arm.

Erb's palsy falls under the broader category of brachial palsy, which results from damage to the nerves surrounding an infant's shoulder. Most common among infants who endure a difficult delivery, this birth injury may occur if an infant's head is pushed to the side or if the shoulders are carelessly pulled on during delivery.

While potentially serious, Erb's Palsy is also very treatable - as long as the signs are recognized and its conditions diagnosed. Unfortunately, many in the medical field, not to mention most parents, are unfamiliar with the signs of Erb's Palsy.

Signs of Erb's Palsy include symptoms like a permanently flexed arm, often held against the body and a weak hand grip. If a baby exhibits a limited amount of sudden arm and hand movement, it might be a sign of damaged nerves.

Though frequently missed, once these signs are recognized, the birth injury can be treated. In milder cases, the palsy may clear up on its own. However, the most serious instances will require immediate and close medical attention, possibly resulting in the decision to do surgery.

Still, this all hinges on the ability of physicians, nurses and even family members to recognize symptoms and look for answers. With closer vigilance and more widespread information, Erb's Palsy, and other types of brachial palsy may be more effectively identified and treated.

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