Brachial Plexus Program | About Brachial Plexus Birth Palsy

LIke ThisLIke ThisLIke ThisLIke ThisLIke This

Contact the Brachial Plexus Program

  • 617-355-6021
  • International: +1-617-355-5209
  • Locations

What is the brachial plexus?

The brachial plexus is a network of nerves which run from the cervical spinal cord to the muscles of the upper limb.

What is brachial plexus birth palsy (BPBP)?

Brachial plexus birth palsy refers to an injury to these nerves sustained during childbirth. The nerves of the brachial plexus may be stretched, compressed, or torn. This may result in loss of muscle function and subsequent paralysis of the upper limb. Injuries may affect all or only a part of the brachial plexus, resulting in varying degrees of upper extremity involvement. Injuries to the upper brachial plexus (C5, C6) affect muscles of the shoulder and elbow, while injuries to the lower brachial plexus (C7, C8, and T1) can affect muscles of the forearm and hand. 

Brachial Plexus Program at Boston Children's HospitalWhat are the types of brachial plexus birth palsy?

Brachial plexus birth palsies are often separated into different categories, depending upon the type of nerve injury and the pattern of nerves involved. 

There are four different types of nerve injuries with different patterns that may occur:

•   Stretch (neurapraxia)
•   Rupture
•   Avulsion
•   Neuroma

How common is brachial plexus birth palsy?

Brachial plexus birth palsies occur in approximately 1-3 out of every 1,000 live births. Risk factors for the development of brachial plexus birth palsy include: large gestational size, breech presentation, prolonged or difficult labor, vacuum- or forceps-assisted delivery, twin or multiple pregnancy, and a history of a prior delivery resulting in brachial plexus birth palsy.
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

Boston Children's Hospital
300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115
For Patients: 617-355-6000
For Referring Providers: 844-BCH-PEDS | 844-224-7337