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Can a nuchal cord cause permanent birth injury?

On Behalf of | Jan 16, 2023 | Medical And Professional Malpractice

A nuchal cord is a term used to describe the condition where an umbilical cord wraps around a baby’s neck inside its mother’s uterus. This situation is quite common and usually doesn’t impact the outcome of the pregnancy.

However, some nuchal cords can pose a significant threat to the baby.

What are the causes of nuchal cords?

Usually, the leading cause of a nuchal cord is excessive fetal movement. However, other factors can lead to a nuchal cord, including: 

  • Having an abnormally long umbilical cord
  • Multiple or twin pregnancies
  • Poor cord structure
  • Too much amniotic fluid 
  • Abnormal fetal representation at birth

The umbilical cord carries nutrients and oxygenated blood from the placenta to the fetus. Unfortunately, when it is wrapped around the baby’s neck, it reduces the flow of oxygen and blood to the fetus. This then results in injuries to the brain and other organs that can impact the infant’s long-term health and quality of life. Additionally, failure to diagnose a nuchal cord can increase the risk of injury and result in life-threatening injuries to the baby.

The following are three common birth injuries resulting from nuchal cords:

1. Cerebral palsy

Cerebral palsy affects posture, muscle tone and movement. This condition can result due to a lack of oxygen after birth. Oxygen deprivation resting from a nuchal cord can lead to a diagnosis of cerebral palsy.

2. Birth Asphyxia

Nuchal cords can prevent oxygen flow to the brain and other organs before, during or after birth. This causes brain injury that can lead to epilepsy, learning disabilities, developmental disabilities and other intellectual and physical complications. 

3. Stillbirth

Sometimes, the umbilical cord gets wrapped around the fetus’s neck too tight. As a result, the brain lacks oxygen, and the tissues in the affected areas die; this can cause death in severe instances.

Remember that doctors have the legal responsibility to make sure a baby is delivered safely. However, birth injuries occur every year due to negligence. If your child was harmed, find out more about your legal options.