The umbilical cord is vital to ensuring the health and well-being of a developing infant within a mother’s womb. There are a few umbilical cord problems that are quite common, however, and can have potentially severe consequences for an unborn child. These problems are not birth injuries in their own right, because many of them cannot be avoided and are not caused by the birthing process. However, some of these problems can lead to birth injuries such as cerebral palsy, birth asphyxia, and long-term brain damage if doctors do not properly identify and respond to them.

Two of the most common umbilical cord problems are umbilical cord prolapse and a nuchal cord. A prolapse occurs when the umbilical cord drops through the cervix of a mother during labor or delivery, which can end up getting wrapped around the baby’s body. On the other hand, a nuchal cord occurs when the umbilical cord becomes wrapped around a baby’s neck one or more times, potentially cutting off the flow of oxygen to the child.

Neither of these events are birth injuries, and a proper medical staff can—and should—detect such umbilical cord problems and react to them properly to avoid injuries. When such steps are not taken, serious birth injuries can occur.

The most common umbilical cord related birth injury is cerebral palsy, which manifests in a way similar to a physical injury but is actually a brain injury. Cerebral palsy is typically caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain of an infant during delivery, usually due to an umbilical cord prolapse that is not properly detected or handled by the medical staff. Detection of cerebral palsy often does not occur until months or years after childbirth, and though treatment can help improve motor functionality, there is no definitive cure.

Birth asphyxia can also occur as a birth injury due to umbilical cord problems. It is a general term for oxygen deprivation to the brain of an infant during delivery, usually as a result of an umbilical cord prolapse or nuchal cord. If the umbilical cord becomes wrapped around a baby’s neck during delivery, it can cut off oxygen to the infant’s brain and result in brain damage with long-term consequences.

These kinds of common umbilical cord related birth injuries are avoidable, assuming the medical staff properly monitors infant distress and the birth mother. Failure on their part can lead to life-long problems and increased care costs for the infant immediately after childbirth and during development. We can help you with these expenses, so contact us at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP and let us take the pressure off of you and get you the compensation you deserve. Contact us today at (212) 986- 7353.

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Posted in: Birth Injury