It affects between one and two in every 1000 babies, yet most people have never heard of Erb’s Palsy or Brachial Plexus injuries.
Wolumla’s Kellie Rosseland hadn’t heard of it either.
But after watching her little daughter go through pain, surgery and physiotherapy almost from the day she was born, Kellie’s now determined every pregnant mother will know about this condition.
“I had never heard of Erb’s Palsy and it seems no one I speak to has either even though it affects more newborns than those born with Down Syndrome and Muscular Dystrophy,” she said.
“I know there are some families in the local area that have recently experienced the same thing and I want them to know they are not alone.”
In February last year Kellie gave birth to her first child, a daughter, Kiara.
Kellie said it was a difficult labour during which the baby’s shoulder got stuck.
“Basically, the nerves in the baby’s neck are either stretched or torn causing one or both arms to be paralysed,” Kellie said.
After Kiara was born she could not move her right arm and her parents were simply told she had a “birth injury”.
“We had no information about what had happened and had no awareness of the risk factors and possible consequences of shoulder dystocia or Erbs Palsy. “Looking back now I realise I had 90 per cent of the risk factors and would have planned my delivery method differently had I been informed.
“We have had a horrific journey with Kiara and she has had to endure surgery, physiotherapy and pain and will for the rest of her life.
“She is lucky and has regained movement however it will be a while before we know how good her recovery will be and if she will have to have more surgery.”
While in countries like the USA and the UK Brachial Plexus Awareness Weeks are held, Kellie is taking it upon herself to raise awareness here.
She is urging pregnant women to speak to their doctors about their risk factors and ways to avoid this injury.
“If you are having a big baby, are overweight, are being induced or are thinking of having an epidural please ask your doctor about shoulder dystocia and Erbs Palsy,” she said.
“As a mother it is mortifying knowing that this could have been avoided if I was more informed.
“If you know anyone affected by this injury or someone looking for support there is an Australian Erb’s Palsy support group on facebook.
“Please find us, you are not alone,” Kellie said.