Nuchal cord birth injuries caused by the effects of the umbilical cord wrapped around the neck often lead to severe physical impairments and permanent disabilities. A birth injury lawyer may be able to help you investigate and file a medical malpractice claim against the doctor or hospital responsible for your baby’s injury.
What Is a Nuchal Cord?
Nuchal cord is the word that the medical community uses to refer to an umbilical cord that is wrapped around a baby’s neck. The medical community groups these into two types: Type A nuchal cord and Type B nuchal cord.
Type A nuchal cord is one that will most likely unwrap on its own. A Type B nuchal cord is one that is very unlikely to unwrap itself from a baby’s neck without intervention.
What Is a Nuchal Cord Injury?
A nuchal cord birth injury occurs when the umbilical cord gets wrapped around the baby’s neck during pregnancy or delivery. Although most cases do not result in injury to the baby, complications can lead to physical and mental impairments, permanent disabilities, and even death.
According to the National Institute of Health, nuchal cord birth injuries occur in 20% to 30% of all births. In most cases, the umbilical cord is loosely wrapped around the baby’s neck, so physicians can easily untangle it during delivery. In cases where the umbilical cord is tightly wrapped or wrapped around two or three times, it can restrict the baby’s blood flow and oxygen.
Effects of Umbilical Cord Wrapped Around the Neck
Nuchal cord injury can lead to a number of serious medical conditions for the baby, including:
- Intellectual Disorders
- Developmental Delays
- Brain Damage
- Cerebral Palsy
One of the most common effects of an umbilical cord wrapped around the neck is a decreased heart rate for the baby. This is usually caused by reduced blood flow and oxygen levels when cords tighten during contractions. If the doctor sees signs of fetal distress or adverse effects on the mother, cesarean delivery may be recommended.
Nuchal Cord Injury Diagnosis and Treatment
There are no known ways to prevent or treat nuchal cord conditions. If a problem is discovered during pregnancy, fetal monitoring with ultrasounds are often used to prevent complications. However, they may not impact the delivery outcome. Most severe nuchal cord birth injuries occur due to a lack of proper fetal monitoring or negligent care during pregnancy. In such cases, families commonly file medical malpractice lawsuits.
Once labor begins, doctors usually don’t attempt to loosen or untangle nuchal cords until the baby is born. Since umbilical cords are essential for adequate blood flow and oxygen to the baby, birth outcomes are typically better for the mother and the baby if the doctors leave the cord intact. The doctors will often unwrap the nuchal cord after the baby is born, unless it presents an emergency situation. Doctors can typically resolve the majority of nuchal cord after unwrapping the cord from the baby’s neck. If the baby suffers oxygen deprivation before doctors remove the cord, the baby may require certain treatments to reduce the chance of brain damage. If nuchal cords are loosely wrapped, a cesarean is usually not necessary.
How Birth Injury Lawyers Help Victims and Families Receive Compensation
A nuchal cord injury is one of the types of medical malpractice. Birth injury lawyers may be able to evaluate and investigate your case. If you have a valid claim, the birth injury lawyer may file a medical malpractice claim on your behalf. The lawyer may also help you understand the signs of medical malpractice. He or she may communicate with third parties, such as insurance companies, on your behalf, advocating for your and your family’s best interests.