Cutting the umbilical cord is a momentous and emotionally significant part of most births. One parent is often given the opportunity to cut the cord, which many view as the moment when a baby is safely delivered and becomes his or her own person. Some parents may even choose to keep the stump of their baby’s umbilical cord as a reminder. Umbilical cords provide babies in the womb with nutrients and oxygen, as well as help babies get rid of waste. These processes are essential to help keep babies growing healthily inside of the womb and many might not even think about them during pregnancy. Umbilical cords, however, are also the cause of some birth injuries if problems with it occur.


Problems with umbilical cords are actually a common part of pregnancies, many of which cause no health concerns for the baby. Umbilical cord problems can occur naturally just by the baby moving around and there is often no way of preventing them. In many cases, problems with the umbilical cord can be fixed with proper medical care. However, problems with an umbilical cord can also be life-threatening. When medical negligence occurs, umbilical cord issues might not be fixed on time and can have devastating effects on the baby. If serious problems with the umbilical cord occur, blood and oxygen can be cut off from the baby. Medical professionals need to test regularly for potential umbilical cord concerns and take the necessary precautions to keep the baby safe and healthy.


To explain this further, here are 5 umbilical cord accidents that can lead to birth defects:


1. Nuchal Cord


Nuchal cords occur when the umbilical cord wraps itself around a baby’s neck. This happens in as many as one in three births. While nuchal cords are common, they occur more frequently in pregnancies with multiple babies or when the cord is especially long. The umbilical cord can even be wrapped around a baby’s neck multiple times. When most nuchal cords occur, they very rarely cause any problems. In worst-case scenarios, they can become tight enough to cut off blood flow to the baby. Doctors need to take precautions when a nuchal cord is present to ensure the baby is born safely. This can include using special maneuvers while the baby is being delivered or performing a cesarean section (c-section) to avoid complications.


2. Umbilical Cord Knot


When babies move in the womb, knots in the umbilical cord can easily form. Umbilical cord knots aren’t a serious problem if the knot remains loose. When knots do tighten similar to nuchal cords, they can cut off oxygen and nutrients from the baby, which can result in brain damage and possibly become life-threatening. Umbilical cord knots can result in hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy and other birth injuries. If there are any risk factors for umbilical cord knots, doctors should perform tests to detect them. To prevent harm to the baby, cesarean sections are often needed to deliver the baby here as well.


3. Umbilical Cord Compression


Umbilical cord compression occurs when there is pressure on the umbilical cord, which can occur for a number of reasons. Most cases of umbilical cord compression are only mild and tend to occur more frequently during labor. Severe umbilical cord compression can lead to serious health concerns for babies. Umbilical cord compression causes the umbilical cord to flatten out and prevents blood and oxygen from getting to the baby. Changing the mother’s position can help relieve compression or a doctor may administer additional oxygen and liquids to the mother to help it reach the baby. Emergency c-sections can be done to prevent any additional harm. If severe umbilical cord compression goes untreated, it can lead to brain damage or death.


4. Umbilical Cord Prolapse


Slightly before delivery, a baby’s umbilical cord may drop into the vaginal canal, putting it in front of the baby. While the baby is being delivered, this position will put pressure on the umbilical cord and prevent oxygen from getting to the baby. This condition, known as umbilical cord prolapse, is a common cause of umbilical cord compression. This can happen in any birth, but is more common in premature births, pregnancies with multiple babies, and breech deliveries. Cord presentation, also known as a funic presentation, is a position where the umbilical cord points towards the lower uterine segment or internal cervical os and should be looked for after 32 weeks to allow doctors to take precautions.


5. Cord Torsion


When cord torsion occurs, the umbilical cord can twist so much that it coils over itself. If cord torsion happens, the umbilical cord may not be able to work properly and cut off blood flow to the baby. Most of the time when cord torsion occurs it isn’t serious and babies are born safely. If the cord torsion is more severe, a c-section may need to be performed.


As always, if you suspect that your child has suffered from any of the umbilical cord injuries above that could have been caused by medical negligence, please contact us below.