Nuchal Cord (Umbilical Cord Wrapped Around Baby's Neck)

The umbilical cord is the tube that connects an unborn baby to its pregnant mother.  The cord runs from the belly of the fetus to the placenta, and is not directly connected to the mother's circulatory system. 

The umbilical cord is used to carry oxygen and nutrients to the fetus, as well as waste products away from the fetus.  In most cases, the cord is about 20 inches long and almost 1 inch in diameter.  It usually appears loosely coiled.  Inside the cord, which is composed of Wharton's jelly, are two arteries and one vein.  In utero, the vein carries oxygenated blood and the arteries carry de-oxygenated blood.  On occasion, the umbilical cord will only have two vessels, i.e., one artery and one vein.

When the umbilical cord wraps around a baby's neck 360 degrees, it is called a nuchal cord.  While as many as 25% of babies are born without injury despite a nuchal cord, a nuchal cord can cause harm to a baby, especially if the cord is tight around the neck, is wrapped around the neck more than once, or where low amniotic fluid permits cord compression.  Other potential umbilical cord complications include prolapse (when the umbilical cord slips into the vagina ahead of the baby) and vasa previa (when an umbilical cord blood vessel crosses the cervix under the baby and is torn).  In these circumstances, a baby may experience fetal distress due to poor blood flow and inadequate oxygen.  Many times, fetal distress is marked by accelerations or decelerations

An ultrasound can be used to identify a nuchal cord; however, it is not 100% accurate.  During labor and delivery, the hospital staff and OBGYN should monitor the fetal heart rate to determine whether the baby is suffering from hypoxia (low oxygen) or ischemia (poor blood flow) because the umbilical cord is knotted, compressed, or otherwise compromised.  Hypoxia and ischemia are linked to brain damage, such as cerebral palsy.

The trial lawyers at Bottar Leone, PLLC, have decades of experience investigating, prosecuting and trying to verdict medical malpractice and birth injury cases.  If you or your baby have been injured due to medical malpractice, you, your child and your family may be entitled to compensation for lifelong health care, medical expenses, special education, medical bills, loss of income, and pain and suffering. 

To discuss your case or concerns with an experienced Central New York medical malpractice and birth injury attorney, contact us now at (315) 422-3466, (800) 336-LAWS, or by e-mail at info@bottarleone.com.