The Dangers of Undiagnosed Umbilical Cord Injuries

Birth Injury

Umbilical cord compression is a prenatal condition that involves pressure on the umbilical cord, flattening or blocking it off. Some degree of cord compression is common and not something to worry about, but prolonged compression potentially cutting off the flow of oxygenated blood and nutrients to the baby and preventing deoxygenated blood from being cycled back out.

Although this condition can be difficult to identify while a baby is still in the womb, the dangers of undiagnosed umbilical cord injuries cannot be overstated. If left unchecked, this condition could cause severe long-term damage to an unborn child’s health, and in the most severe cases can even lead to premature death.

Identifying Compression of the Umbilical Cord

While there is not a direct causal relationship, prolonged umbilical cord injuries are somewhat more likely to occur under certain conditions. Too little amniotic fluid in the womb may lead to the cord getting pinned between the prenatal baby and the uterine wall. Conversely, a greater amount of amniotic fluid than normal might increase the odds of an umbilical cord prolapse prior to birth. Similarly, if an umbilical cord is particularly long, there may be a greater risk of a knot forming or of the cord wrapping tightly around the baby’s neck, also known as a nuchal cord.

What Should a Doctor be Looking For?

Detecting umbilical cord compression is often difficult but attentive doctors should note anything that causes a change in a prenatal baby’s heart rate as well as reduced movement and abnormal fetal growth rate from lack of nutrients. In the event of umbilical cord prolapse, the mother or her attending physicians may feel or see the cord in the birth canal after the amniotic sac ruptured—or, colloquially, after the mother’s water breaks.

What Are the Risks Associated with Umbilical Cord Compression?

If umbilical cord compression is identified by a medical professional, it can be treated through an infusion of artificial amniotic fluid or, in urgent cases, an emergency cesarean section. If a doctor unreasonably fails to diagnose this condition or ignores a mother’s symptoms or complaints though, they may be liable for any harm the child or mother suffers as a result.

Prolonged umbilical cord compression can result in intrauterine growth restriction, which may, in turn, lead to low birth weight and various other complications. In addition, undiagnosed umbilical cord compression has been correlated with the development of cerebral palsy, autism, and certain behavioral disorders. In the worst cases, lack of oxygen due to cord compression could have fatal consequences.

Seeking Compensation

Prenatal and neonatal care providers are expected to maintain constant awareness of both mother and child’s condition, and to act as soon as possible to remedy any condition that may threaten their health and safety. If they fail to do so, a family could be forced to deal with an unexpected physical or developmental disability for the entirety of their child’s lifetime. If you suspect you or your child suffered harm due to a prenatal or neonatal doctor’s negligence, consider talking to a birth injury lawyer about your legal options. Call today.