Trouble with the umbilical cord is a common complication before and during childbirth. If the fetus has an irregular heartbeat, or if the baby’s movement has decreased, this may indicate a compressed or damaged umbilical cord. Problems with the umbilical cord can seriously threaten a baby’s health. Because of this, delivery teams must take care to monitor and treat them in an efficient and timely manner.
If your child suffered injuries from problems with the umbilical cord, and you believe they could have been prevented, call Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC at (312) 346-8620 for a consultation today. Our experienced Chicago birth injury attorneys will help you determine whether you can hold the responsible parties accountable for their negligence.
Why Is the Umbilical Cord So Important?
In order to know why umbilical cord problems have such a potential to cause serious harm to a baby, it is important to understand their function.
The umbilical cord is what connects the mother to the baby during fetal development. It begins in the placenta and connects directly to an opening in the baby’s belly. The umbilical cord brings in oxygen and vital nutrients to the baby from the mother, via a special set of blood vessels.
After the baby is born, someone in the delivery team clamps and cuts the umbilical cord. Because there are no nerves within it, this does not cause any pain to either the mother or the child. The clamped stump of the umbilical cord falls off within two weeks or so, leaving behind the baby’s belly button.
Common Umbilical Cord Problems
The following umbilical cord issues can all have a negative impact on the health of a fetus or newborn infant:
Umbilical Cord Compression – This happens when pressure stops the flow of blood through the umbilical cord, either partially or entirely. While the fetus may be able to survive this kind of compression for short periods of time, serious birth injuries can occur if sufficient blood flow does not return.
Nuchal Cord – This is the medical term for an umbilical cord that has wrapped itself around the fetus’s neck one or more times. It is generally the result of the baby’s movement through a loop in the umbilical cord. It becomes particularly dangerous when the cord is tight around the child’s neck, interrupting the flow of blood. In such situations, a caesarian section is often required in order to facilitate a quick delivery to prevent permanent brain injuries due to a lack of blood flow.
True Knots – True knots occur when the umbilical cord becomes twisted into a knot, much like a rope. This can also happen due to fetal movement, gestational diabetes, or with monoamniotic twins (when a pair of twins share one amniotic sac). One common sign of a true knot is when a baby’s activity decreases after 37 weeks. If this occurs, the mother’s medical team should monitor the situation carefully, and test for possible umbilical cord problems.
Umbilical Cord Prolapse – In an ideal birth, the umbilical cord will follow the baby out through the birth canal. However, a prolapse happens when the cord moves down the birth canal before or along with the baby. This can lead to birth asphyxia, or HIE, in which the infant’s brain does not receive enough oxygen during birth. As with nuchal cords, a c-section may be required to prevent injuries due to prolapse.
Short Umbilical Cords – Ideally, the length of the umbilical cord should allow the baby to move without overstretching it or tearing it, but not so long that it makes knots or tangles more likely. If it is too short, the fetus’s movement may cause the umbilical cord to tear away from the placenta. This can cause the mother to hemorrhage a large amount of blood, causing harm to both her and the child. If this occurs, emergency delivery procedures may be required.
Vasa Previa – In Latin, vasa previa means “vessels before.” This term indicates a condition in which the blood vessels that connect the umbilical cord to the placenta are under the baby and over or near the birth canal. This makes the blood vessels likely to rupture during childbirth, leading to a lot of blood loss and causing great harm to the baby.
Umbilical Cord Infection – If the fetal membranes become infected during pregnancy, an intra-amniotic infection (IAI) can develop. This happens when an infection spreads to the umbilical cord, the placenta, the amniotic fluid, and the baby itself. An IAI of the umbilical cord can lead to a condition known as fetal inflammatory response syndrome (FIRS), which can lead to pre-term birth, neonatal sepsis, or cerebral palsy. Antibiotics may be necessary to prevent infections from becoming serious birth injuries.
Treatment for Umbilical Cord Birth Injuries
In the event that a child becomes injured due to an umbilical cord complication, one treatment strategy that may be available after the child is delivered is known as cooling therapy. This is an option that, if employed quickly enough after the child is born, may slow down or even stop the development of permanent injuries that might come about due to insufficient blood flow to the brain.
Infant cooling therapy works best when it is applied within a six- to twenty-four-hour window after the child is born. It involves lowering the baby’s body temperature to 33 degrees Celsius (91.4 degrees Fahrenheit) by either placing a cooling cap on the infant’s head or placing the baby on a cooling blanket. Treatment typically lasts from two to three days, depending on the severity of the case.
Contact a Chicago Birth Injury Attorney Today
If your child has had a birth injury due to umbilical cord problems, it is important to act quickly to have a chance of improving thy baby’s wellbeing. If you believe that a preventable medical error might have been the cause of your child’s birth injury, our experienced birth injury attorneys may be able to help you secure compensation that can offset the costs of your baby’s care.
Contact Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC at (312) 346-8620 and speak with a member of our experienced legal team today.