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Minerva Ginecol. 1997 May;49(5):203-6.

[Brachial plexus paralysis: its incidence, predisposing factors and outcome].

[Article in Italian]

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Divisione di Neontologia, Università degli Studi, Messina.



We have studies, retrospectively, the risk factors, incidence and outcome of obstetric palsy in all infants delivered between January 1990 and December 1994 at the Obstetric and Gynecological Department and afferent to the Neonatological Division of the University of Messina. Twenty-eight of the 5556 live born full term infants (5/1000) were at birth diagnosed as having a brachial plexus paresis. Of these eight (1.6/1000) had persistent palsy.


In about 40-50% of the infants with brachial plexus palsy the obstetric history was characterized by high birthweight, shoulder dystocia, and parity 1. The infants who recovered totally did so during the first 12 months of life. All infants had upper brachial plexus, or Erb's palsy, which is more favorable than entire brachial plexus palsy. At follow-up (15 months-5 years), all infants with persistent palsy were afflicted by varying degrees of arm function compromise.


We stress that, in several cases, obstetric brachial plexus palsy results in life-long handicap, and that prevention, early diagnosis and therapy need to be the goals of the obstetrical and pediatric management.

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