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Umbilical Cord Problems

baby being checked by doctorNo parent-to-be ever wants to contemplate the possibility that their newborn will suffer serious harm due to umbilical cord problems that are not properly addressed during labor and delivery. Unfortunately, these types of birthing complications arise all too often, causing severe injury and even death to the most vulnerable among us.

Since 1967, New York birth injury lawyers at the Sanders Firm have demonstrated our unwavering commitment to protecting the rights of those affected by medical negligence, including children and parents who have suffered the effects of obstetrical malpractice of this sort.

Umbilical cord problems and the dangers they represent

The umbilical cord truly is a lifeline between mother and child prior to birth, connecting the baby to the placenta itself. It serves to transport the fetal blood supply, delivers oxygen, provides essential nutrients and eliminates waste. The cord’s development begins roughly five weeks into pregnancy and ultimately reaches a length of between 22 and 24 inches. There are a series of potential abnormalities that may arise with the umbilical cord, some of which have the ability to cause serious issues during the labor and delivery process.

If certain types of these problems are not promptly identified and addressed by medical personnel, severe birth injuries can result.

Some of the most common umbilical cord abnormalities include:

  • Umbilical cord prolapse, a complication that requires timely diagnosis and C-section to prevent loss of oxygen, brain damage and potential stillbirth
  • Nuchal cord, in which the cord itself wraps itself around the baby’s neck, hand or foot
  • Vasa previa, whereby the baby’s blood vessels cross the mother’s cervix and incur a greater risk of rupturing, fetal oxygen deprivation and often stillbirth
  • Umbilical cord knots which, when tight, can result in birth injuries unless a prompt C-section is performed
  • Umbilical cord cysts, which are known for causing kidney, abdominal and chromosomal defects
  • Single umbilical artery, a condition that can impact the heart, brain and other vital characteristics of newborns

All of these potential complications necessitate early monitoring, diagnosis and treatment by qualified obstetricians and delivery staff. Failure to identify and address such problems as they arise can have devastating consequences for the baby and their entire family.

At the Sanders Firm, our New York medical malpractice lawyers have extensive knowledge of the proper protocols and standards of care to which medical professionals must adhere during childbirth, and we stand ready to help determine whether your child’s injuries were likely the result of a breach of those accepted practices.

Physician errors leading to umbilical cord complications

Umbilical cord problems are not in and of themselves birth injuries, but when obstetrical staff and the labor team fail to discover and appropriately respond to them, such injuries can quickly occur. Vigilant monitoring for signs of fetal distress and changes in fetal heart rate is essential to detecting umbilical cord issues during the labor process. In situations involving vasa previa, umbilical cord prolapse, tight cord knots and nuchal cords, a failure to quickly assess the need for, and subsequently order a C-section delivery can result in severe birth defects or even stillbirth.

Not all umbilical cord complications present themselves only at the time of labor and delivery, and many such issues become apparent at a much earlier point in a woman’s pregnancy. When this occurs, often via routine ultrasound, the risk of stillbirth can be reduced dramatically, if not entirely, by planning a Cesarean delivery at roughly 35 weeks gestation. Doctors have an obligation to pay close attention to risk factors that may increase the likelihood that an umbilical cord problem will develop in a given pregnancy.

Some common signals that additional monitoring for such complications is in order include:

  • Baby is known to be in breech position
  • The mother has gone into preterm labor
  • Amniotic fluid levels are low
  • The mother is giving birth to multiples
  • The doctor has ruptured the patient’s membranes to hasten labor
  • The cord is known to be excessively long

When such signs are present and insufficient care and attention is taken to prevent further complications from taking place, an actionable claim of medical negligence may arise. The Sanders Firm boasts an impressive network of case investigators, health care consultants and medical experts who are able to quickly recognize when labor and delivery staff have abrogated their duty to follow the accepted standard of care. We are dedicated to ensuring that the parties responsible for the harm your child has suffered are held to account, and we possess the resources to help make that happen.

Liability in cases involving umbilical cord complications

The birth injuries that can result from a failure to properly diagnose and treat umbilical cord complications are often quite severe. Ranging from moderate developmental impairment to profound disability to death, these types of injuries are often found to have been completely preventable.

In such situations, a birth injury attorney will set to work identifying appropriate defendants in litigation, which could include:

  • Physicians who provided prenatal care and screenings
  • The obstetrician who oversaw the labor and delivery process
  • Nursing staff present during the birth
  • Anesthesiologists who administered drugs
  • The medical facility at which the birth occurred
  • Manufacturers of faulty monitoring equipment

Determining the responsible parties in an umbilical cord injury case is a task that aggrieved parents should not attempt to undertake on their own. Enlisting the aid of attorneys with years of experience handling medical malpractice cases on behalf of victims throughout New York and Long Island is the best way to maximize the chances of securing fair compensation, which can include:

  • Medical expenses, both present and future
  • Payment for ongoing physical therapy
  • Lost income and/or reduced earning capacity
  • Costs of specialized educational services
  • Compensation for emotional distress

How a New York birth injury lawyer can help

At the Sanders Firm, we know too well the agony new parents experience in the aftermath of a serious birth injury due to improperly handled umbilical cord complications. We believe it is our duty and privilege to provide clients with the individualized, compassionate guidance they need at this most critical time in their lives. Compensation attained in a birth injury lawsuit may help secure your child’s financial future.

If you or a loved one has been seriously harmed by medical negligence relating to the birthing process, we invite you to call us at 1-800-FAIR-PLAY to schedule a no-cost consultation. Let us put our decades of experience to work in pursuit of the fair financial recovery you and your family members deserve.

  1. Medscape, Umbilical Cord Complications, https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/262470-overview 

  2. March of Dimes, Pregnancy complications: Umbilical cord abnormalities, www.marchofdimes.com/pregnancy/umbilical-cord-abnormalities/aspx 

  3. NYU Langone Medical Center, Umbilical Cord Prolapse, https://pediatrics.med.nyu.edu/conditions-we-treat/conditions/umbilical-cord-prolapse

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