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Sadly, there are a number of traumatic birth injuries that afflict newborns. While most people are familiar with cerebral palsy, many have not heard or Klumpke’s palsy, or Klumpke paralysis. Klumpke’s palsy is caused by a birth injury to the baby’s brachial plexus, which is a network of nerves coming out of the spinal cord that starts in the back of the neck and extends to the armpit.
Most types of brachial plexus injuries impact the shoulder and upper arm, and the resulting paralysis affects the movement of the lower arm and hand. Babies with Klumpke’s palsy have difficulty moving their arm, wrist, and hand. Other symptoms include a lack of muscle control so movements are uncoordinated, and a loss of feeling in those areas as if they are “asleep.” In addition, some babies have a droopy eyelid on the opposite side of their face.
The brachial plexus injury and the resulting Klumpke’s palsy can result from a difficult delivery and trauma during childbirth. When a baby is in a typical head down position before birth, but he/she has an arm positioned above the head, the doctor sometimes pulls the baby by the arm from the birth canal. This puts a big strain on the neck and shoulder (and nerves) of the newborn. These brachial plexus injuries are more commonly seen with petite women whose babies have higher birth weights as it is more difficult for the baby to move through a relatively small birth canal. Conversely, it is quite uncommon for an infant delivered by cesarean section to experience Klumpke paralysis.
Klumpke’s palsy is diagnosed at birth after a physical exam. Doctors may conduct x-rays and other tests to determine the extent of the nerve damage. Some babies will have mild symptoms and recover within months. Some will need surgery. Others will unfortunately have some permanent nerve damage.
If you believe that the doctor who delivered your infant (or the infant of a loved one) was negligent and made poor medical decisions that led to a brachial plexus injury and Klumpke’s palsy, please contact us at 312-346-5320. You can tell us the details of what happened, and we can refer you to an experienced attorney. If the injury was a result of negligence during the delivery, your child can be compensated for their medical bills, pain and suffering, loss of future income and need for future care.