Nothing is more heartbreaking for new parents than having their child experience harm. It is even more devastating when the injury occurs at the time of birth and is avoidable. Brachial plexus birth injuries (BPBI) affect the shoulder, elbow, arm, or hand muscles. The severity of the problem can vary, and it may either self-correct or become a life-long issue. All current and future parents in Idaho should understand the risk and what can prevent this injury.
How it occurs
BPBI can happen during childbirth if the neck becomes stretched to one side. Birth injuries like these can occur when complications arise during labor. Breech births, a large baby, a long delivery, or multiples increase the risk of injury. By stretching the neck, damage can occur to the brachial plexus nerve that runs from the spinal cord to the armpit and down the arm to the hands.
What it affects
Newborns affected by BPBI may experience weakness in the affected arm and need physical therapy to improve their ability to move the arm and shoulder. Some infants with these birth injuries may lose the ability to move their arms or hand. In other cases, the child may have a droopy eye on the side affected and a reduced ability to sweat on that side of the face.
What to do
BPBI does not need to happen. Studies show that physician and midwife training can help prevent most of these birth injuries. Parents need to discuss the concern with their obstetrician before the delivery to ensure they understand the proper techniques that avoid BPBI.
BPBI happens even when parents select trained professionals for the delivery. An awareness of the signs of the injury will allow the parent to identify the problem sooner and begin treatment for their child. Get an accurate diagnosis of any birth injury to learn more about the options available for treatment.