Can You Detect Brachial Plexus in the Womb?

brachial plexus

Giving birth is one of the most amazing feats of our human experience. Unfortunately, pregnancies and childbirth can suffer complications. One complication that is not as documented as other cases is brachial plexus injury.

The most common pregnancy complications include:

  • Ectopic pregnancy – when a fertilized egg is outside the uterus. This means the baby can’t develop
  • Anemia – reduced number of red blood cells, leading to fatigue and weakness
  • Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) – bacterial infections that cause pain, nausea and fever
  • Mental illness – low mood and energy, depression, shame, and feelings of worthlessness.
  • High Blood Pressure – hypertension that can lead to pre-term delivery and infant death.
  • Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) – due to pregnancy, the body experiences hormonal changes. The body fails to produce enough insulin to deal with sugar. This can lead to pre-term labor, complicated childbirth, and babies with breathing problems.
  • Weight gain and obesity – being overweight causes complicated deliveries, GDM, and stillbirths.
  • Miscarriage and stillbirth – pregnancy loss can occur either from natural causes or from lifestyle choices, such as smoking.
  • Severe nausea and vomiting
  • Placenta Previa and abruption – Previa occurs when the placenta covers the opening of the cervix. Abruption occurs when the placenta separates from the uterine wall, starving the fetus of oxygen.

Brachial plexus is a different problem for mothers to worry about. Read on to find out more.

What is Brachial Plexus?

There are nerves that connect the arm to the neck and to the spine. This network of nerve fibers is called the brachial plexus.

A brachial plexus injury occurs when there is damage to the area due to:

  • Childbirth trauma – this happens in several ways. When the baby is large and can’t fit through the mother’s cervix without considerable force. Alternatively, during a breech delivery, whereby a baby is not in the right position in the uterus during delivery. This means that the legs and buttocks come out first instead of the head.
  • Birth defects
  • Overstretching
  • Blows to the region
  • Pressure to the nerves. For example, because of a tumor.
  • Radiation therapy damage
  • Inflammations
  • Vehicle accidents
  • Gunshot wounds

Injuries to the brachial plexus involve several types:


This is an overstretching injury common among athletes and infants. It can heal on its own.


It is a nerve injury caused by trauma or surgery. Scar tissue presses against other nerves, reducing the blood supply in the nerves. This can cause pain.


This is a severe injury where the nerve roots are torn or pulled from the spinal cord. Recovery from this injury is unlikely.


It occurs due to stretching and it involves partial tears of the nerves.

At this point, we have to ask ourselves, since many of these injuries are through external causes, can doctors discover them on a fetus during pregnancy?

Detecting Brachial Plexus

Because of advancements in technology, doctors are now able to diagnose and treat birth defects before babies are born.

Every parent is afraid their child might not be healthy when born. They want to be sure the fetus is growing well and receiving everything it needs. This is why prenatal testing is an important part of pregnancy.

Brachial plexus injuries have symptoms that we can spot. They are pain, lack of muscle control, arm paralysis, muscle numbness, and lack of sensation.

Doctors have different types of tools for screening for defects. They use maternal blood tests and ultrasounds.

Another method is the use of Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS). Here, doctors test a piece of placenta for genetic disorders in the fetus. They also use an Amniocentesis Test. It measures the amniotic fluid around the baby for chromosomal disorders.

Doctors can determine many birth defects:

  • Congenital heart and lung defects
  • Neural tube defects – where sensitive body parts do not have the proper protective shells. For example, spina bifida occurs when bones don’t form well to protect the spinal cord and nerves.
  • Blood disorders such as sickle cell disease.
  • Body malformations such as clubfoot, cleft lip, and palate.
  • Gastrointestinal and kidney malformations.
  • Genetic and chromosomal disorders such as Down’s syndrome and Cystic Fibrosis.

As you can see, there is no mention of brachial plexus injuries. We can conclude that brachial plexus injuries are not birth defects. It is trauma a newborn suffers at the time of birth.

If that’s the case, who is at fault and what can you – the parent – do about it?

Medical Malpractice and Your Family’s Well-being

Let’s face it, institutions exercise more power than individuals. People, find it difficult to show how they large institutions harmed them. That is what happens when patients confront hospitals.

You only need to find the right way to stand up for yourself.

Medical malpractice occurs when hospitals make choices that harm a patient. According to the law, a claim of medical malpractice must show:

  1. There was a violation of the established medical standards of care.
  2. The hospital’s negligence caused an injury.
  3. The patient suffered significant damages because of the injury.

Examples of malpractice include:

  • Misdiagnosis
  • Wrong dosages
  • Premature discharge
  • Disregarding a patient’s medical history when giving treatment
  • Surgical errors

In our case, an infant now has a brachial plexus injury because there was a problem during labor. The doctors and nurses always had a defense. It was that “maternal forces of labor” were responsible for a newborn baby’s injury.

2012 was a great blessing for families who did not get any recourse for their injured newborns. The defense against charges of medical malpractice failed in the pivotal case Muhammad vs. Fitzpatrick.

The plaintiff, Belinda Muhammad, claimed that the defendant, John K. Fitzpatrick, M.D., was responsible for injuries to her infant daughter. The court rejected the defendant’s explanation that the injuries occurred during the natural birthing process.

Steps for you to Take

It is unfortunate when newborns suffer injuries due to low standards of medical care. You read pregnancy books, attended pre-natal classes, and underwent every screening test to protect your baby. Then someone hurt them during birth.

You can seek legal reprieve from law firms that deal with medical injuries. The process involves filing a lawsuit in court. The parties can choose to settle the case before trial.

However, when the trial starts, both parties will have to present their case. As the plaintiff, you must prove the defendant’s negligence hurt your baby.

Contact us and find out how we can help you protect your family.

Leave a Comment