This is not a common problem, but it occurs three times in every thousand births. If you've been through a difficult delivery, you may want to be aware of this. The Brachial Plexus Foundation says some children will seriously injure or even paralyze an arm, simply from the sheer force of being born.
The brachial plexus injury, or "erbs palsy" for short, may be as subtle as a nerve sensitivity or as serious as a life long debilitation. The trouble is sometimes parents don't know there is an injury that can be fixed if it is treated early.
"Immediately after Bradley was born we noticed that his right arm was completely flacid laying there, no movement. The hospital told me just to pin his arm to the onesie and don't worry about it," says Allison Steigerwalt, Bradley's mom.
"To extract the child, sometimes a great deal of force is required and that can stretch nerves or tear them. It is critical that we get to severe injuries in time by three to six months of age and treat them," says Dr. Rahul Nath, a Brachial Plexus Specialist.
Dr. Nath says an injury can happen to any size baby during birth if the baby's neck and shoulders stretch too far apart, damaging or tearing a nerve. But the Brachial Plexus Foundation says there are some tell-tale signs to look for in infants. The most noticeable: being unable to lift an arm, or bend the arm at the elbow. Also, the infants arm will lie with palms down at its side. If you notice any of those, be sure to tell your doctor.