Brachial Plexus Birth Injury | Symptoms & Causes

What are the symptoms of brachial plexus injury?

When a newborn has brachial plexus injury they may experience:

  • muscle weakness or paralysis in the affected arm or hand
  • decreased movement or sensation in the upper extremity

Usually, the baby is not in much pain, probably because infants’ nerves behave differently from adults’. Roughly, just 4 percent seem to experience severe pain. If a fracture accompanies the BPBP, the baby will experience some discomfort from the fracture, but not usually intense pain. And any fractures (clavicle, humerus) the baby may have will probably heal quickly — in about 10 days.

This is in contrast to an adult’s traumatic brachial plexus injury caused by accident or sports impact. In these cases, pain from brachial plexus injury is acute and disabling, as is pain from any accompanying fractures.

What causes brachial plexus birth injury?

The causes of brachial plexus injury may include:

  • large gestational size
  • breech birth
  • prolonged or difficult labor
  • vacuum- or forceps-assisted delivery
  • twin or multiple pregnancy
  • history of a prior delivery resulting in brachial plexus birth injury

Once your child’s pediatrician has made a diagnosis, it’s safe to wait up to four weeks for a comprehensive evaluation by a pediatric orthopedist or brachial plexus specialist.