The umbilical cord is the lifeline between mother and child. Averaging 21 inches in length, it delivers oxygen, blood, and nutrients to the developing fetus. When the umbilical cord wraps around the baby, it is known as a nuchal cord. This condition occurs in approximately 20-30% of all births, and, while not normally dangerous, failure to properly diagnose or manage it can cause serious complications such as respiratory distress, birth asphyxia, anima, or stillbirth.
If your child suffered injuries due to the improper management or misdiagnosis of a nuchal cord, get help from a Maryland umbilical cord wrapped around the neck lawyer. Call the experienced attorneys at Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 431-0911 today to schedule a free consultation.
Risks from Umbilical Cords Wrapped Around a Baby’s Neck in Maryland
The umbilical cord is wrapped around a baby in roughly 1 out of 3 pregnancies. Usually caused by the random movement of the fetus, nuchal cords generally do not result in catastrophic injury. However, compression of the umbilical cord can deprive the fetus of oxygen, blood, and nutrients. It is important for a medical professional to diagnose a nuchal cord correctly and then address the nuchal cord based on the seriousness of the tangle.
There are three ways to classify the severity of a nuchal cord:
Number of Times the Nuchal Cord is Wrapped Around the Fetus
- A nuchal cord will be wrapped around the baby’s neck one or more times. Multiple wraps increase the risk of a compressed cord and the inability of additional movement to free the baby.
Tightly Wrapped or Loosely Wrapped Nuchal Cord
- A tightly wrapped nuchal cord cannot be slipped over the baby’s head during delivery and presents a greater risk of compression of the cord. A loosely wrapped cord can be easily removed immediately after birth.
“Type A” Nuchal Cord or “Type B” Nuchal Cord
- A type A nuchal cord, or “unlocked cord,” and can be slipped off by fetal movement. A type B nuchal cord, or “locked cord,” can potentially lead to a true knot. A type B nuchal cord is unlikely to resolve itself by fetal movement and may require a doctor to intervene.
Diagnosis and Management of Umbilical Cord Complications During Pregnancy
While common, nuchal cords are difficult to see on ultrasounds and, therefore, are difficult to diagnose before birth. Also, due to the random movement of the fetus, a nuchal cord can develop and unwrap itself during pregnancy without causing any issues.
Generally, the diagnosis of an umbilical cord wrapped around the neck happens at birth. Indications of a nuchal cord include a duskiness in the face, facial petechia, or bleeding in the whites of the eyes. Additionally, lack of movement, a decrease in fetal activity, or a low heart rate may be signs of a compressed nuchal cord cutting off oxygen and blood to the baby.
A nuchal cord requires appropriate management at the time of delivery. If the nuchal cord is loose and there are no signs of fetal distress, the medical professional may be able to slip the cord over the baby’s head. If the cord is too tight, the medical professional may attempt a “somersault delivery.” This maneuver keeps the baby’s head close to the birth canal to avoid tightening the nuchal cord. The baby’s head is then moved to the side by the mother’s thigh, allowing for the rest of the body to somersault out. If this maneuver is not possible, then the doctor may have to clamp or cut the umbilical cord earlier than recommended. If the nuchal cord is severely tight and there are signs of fetal distress, such as abnormal or low heart rate or a lack of fetal movement, the doctor may have to order a C-section.
Improperly diagnosing a nuchal cord or failing to take the appropriate measures to mitigate the dangers may result in catastrophic injury to the baby.
Complications from a Mismanaged Nuchal Cord in Maryland
If a medical professional does not correctly manage a nuchal cord, serious and potentially deadly consequences are likely. A compressed nuchal cord will restrict oxygen and blood, possibly resulting in birth asphyxia, anemia, respiratory distress, meconium, cerebral palsy, seizures, muscular disabilities, and intellectual or developmental disabilities. If severely mismanaged by a medical professional, an umbilical cord wrapped around the baby’s neck could result in death.
If a baby has a hypoxic-ischemic injury due to a compressed nuchal cord, it is possible to minimize brain damage. A medical professional must immediately administer a treatment known as therapeutic hypothermia. This cooling therapy will not eliminate all brain injuries, but the swift administration of the treatment greatly reduces brain damage. Failing to administer this therapy or consider this and other options might be malpractice.
Call a Maryland Lawyer for Umbilical Cords Wrapped Around the Neck Today for a Free Consultation
Despite nuchal cords being relatively common, the risk of serious injury or death is real if a medical professional misdiagnoses the nuchal cord or fails to competently treat the patient. If your child suffered severe injuries, is facing a lifetime of difficult disabilities, or was stillborn, you may be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering, medical costs, and expenses related to the injury. The experienced Maryland umbilical cord wrapped around the neck lawyers at Rice, Murtha & Psoras fight for your rights. Call (410) 431-0911 today to schedule a free consultation.