My niece was just born last month. There was a difficult delivery and they say she has Erb’s palsy. What is this and what should we expect?

Erb’s palsy is the result of an injury to a group of nerves in the neck and arm called the brachial plexus. The injury occurs before birth or during delivery. The position of the baby or use of forceps or vacuum extractor are the usual reasons for the injury.

Weakness of the muscles and even paralysis lead to loss of motion and function. In most cases the children recover in the first year. Severe problems may be treated with surgery during the first four months.

Any major loss of motion or function after nine months should be looked at more carefully. Often a team of doctors including the pediatrician, orthopedic surgeon, and neurologist work together to find the best treatment plan for each child.