How can medical negligence cause Erb’s palsy in newborns?

On Behalf of | Feb 6, 2020 | Medical Malpractice

Every new parent eagerly anticipates the birth of their child. They dream about the days ahead, decorating the nursery and deciding on a possible name. But they also worry: What if something goes wrong?

For parents whose child is injured during childbirth, this fear becomes a reality. When that injury is due to medical negligence, that parent has cause to pursue legal action.

What is Erb’s palsy?

Erb’s palsy is a condition that causes weakness and loss of motion due in the arm to damage to the bunch of nerves at a baby’s neck. The ill effects can even cascade down the arm, causing disability as far as the hand and fingers.

Approximately one out of every 1,000 babies are diagnosed with this condition, which makes it one of the most common birth injuries in America.


Most often, Erb’s palsy results from delivery complications. The following scenarios can all lead to the condition:

  • The infant’s head being pulled too far to the side during delivery
  • Stretching of the shoulder region in a heads-first delivery
  • Too much strain on the baby’s outstretched arms in a breech delivery


Complete loss of motion or decreased mobility in the arm is an indicator of this form of nerve damage. Sometimes, the condition lasts only a few weeks. However, it can take years to heal, or the arm can remain weak for life. Every child is different.


Physical therapy is often necessary to strengthen the affected arm. As a newborn is too young to participate actively, parents are responsible for putting their child’s arm through the motions for treatment.

If traditional physical therapy methods fail, there are also surgical options.


As a parent, having a child experience this difficulty so early in life has likely caused you unspoken emotional pain. Doctors sign an oath to do no harm, and, in many cases of Erb’s Palsy, a birth injury could have been avoided by simply doing a Cesarean section. Would that have helped your child? It’s impossible to know. However, it is possible to pursue compensation for the pain and physical issues your child has had to face.