8 Ways to Tell if Your Baby Has Erb's Palsy
Health,  Kids,  Parenting

8 Ways to Tell if Your Baby Has Erb’s Palsy

8 Ways to Tell if Your Baby Has Erb's Palsy

Erb’s palsy is a condition affecting the brachial plexus, which is the network of nerves that run from the spinal cord through the shoulder to the arm. Erb’s palsy is most often caused by excessive pulling or stretching of the head and shoulders during birth. There are many effective treatments for Erb’s palsy. However, as with most every condition or illness, early detection can play a big part in how well your child recovers.

Identifying the signs of Erb’s palsy is key to making sure that your child gets the medical treatment that they require. Prompt treatment will be sure to increase the chance of a full recovery. There are many symptoms that can help you to identify this condition in your child.


One sign that your child may be suffering from Erb’s palsy is immobility of the arm. While babies don’t tend to have great control over their bodies, they do tend to move their arms around quite a bit. The severity can vary greatly, with complete immobility caused by paralysis being the worst case. If you witness your child struggling to move one of their arms in any form, it may be a sign of Erb’s palsy.

Lack of Feeling

Another sign that your child may be affected is if they don’t respond to stimuli. If your child doesn’t seem to notice a pinch or a touch of their arm, it could be a sign that they are suffering nerve damage from Erb’s palsy.


The opposite can also be a sign of Erb’s palsy. If rather than not feeling, your child is oversensitive, it could also signify nerve damage. If a touch to your child’s arm leads to them screaming out in pain, there is probably a problem.

Poor Reflexes

A child with Erb’s palsy may lack proper reflexes in their arm, so even if they do feel your touch, they may not react reflexively, or their reaction may be very weak.

Lack of Strength

A child with a weak grip in one hand may have Erb’s palsy. It is easy to compare the strength of the two hands by giving them something to grasp in each hand and seeing if they lack the necessary strength to properly grip one of the items. You can run this test multiple times and have them grip your fingers directly to compare. If they continue to display weakness in one hand, it is a sign that they may have Erb’s palsy.

Stunted Growth

Stunted growth in the shoulder, arm, or hand may be a sign of Erb’s palsy. The stunted growth is due to poor muscle development throughout the arm.

Circulation Problems

Any form of impaired development in your child’s arm may be a sign of Erb’s palsy. These impairments can be to any of the systems running through your arm. In addition to signs of poor development of the muscular and nervous systems, you may notice indications that something is wrong with the circulatory system. A sign of damage to the arm’s circulatory system would be a problem with regulating temperature in the arm.

If one of your child’s arms feels cold while the rest of their body is warm, it may be due to poor circulation caused by Erb’s palsy.

Horner’s Syndrome

Horner’s syndrome is caused by a disruption of the nerves to the eye. Horner’s syndrome is a less common but still prevalent sign of Erb’s palsy, among other conditions. Horner’s syndrome can be identified by four main symptoms, which are:

  • Constricted pupil
  • Droopy eyelid
  • Lack of sweating on one side of the face
  • An eyeball sunk back into the eye socket.


There is no specific treatment for Horner’s syndrome. However, when the underlying cause – in this case, Erb’s palsy – is treated, the eye and surrounding facial area tend to return to normal as well.

Seeking Compensation

If your child suffers from Erb’s palsy, there is a good chance that it will come with a financial burden. In severe cases, that financial burden can be significant. To cover financial costs, you may want to take legal action regarding your child’s Erb’s palsy disability. Having the financial means to provide your child with the best possible care can help bring peace of mind as you work with them towards what will hopefully be a full recovery.

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