The umbilical cord is a necessary component to a healthy baby and delivery. Often referred to as the baby’s “supply line,” the umbilical cord is a tube-like structure that connects the baby to the placenta; this narrow structure delivers nutrients and oxygen to the fetus while in prenatal development. Umbilical cord accidents account for approximately 10% of all stillbirths and are often the result of a sudden disruption of blood supply to the fetus. Find out how these accidents occur below. 

Types of Umbilical Cord Accidents

In many cases, an umbilical cord accident happens as a result of an abnormality, a problematic pregnancy, a disruption of the blood supply to the baby or a combination of these. This type of accident can occur if:

  • The umbilical cord is too long and becomes knotted
  • The baby is breech position, causing the umbilical cord to become tangled
  • There is too much or too little amniotic fluid in the gestational sac, which can either cause the cord to become compressed between the baby and wall of the uterus or cause it to be expelled before the baby when the water becomes prolapsed

An umbilical cord accident can also occur if the mother is carrying multiple babies, which can crowd the uterus and increase the risk of compression. 

An umbilical cord accident can also occur with a condition called vasa previa, which is when one or more blood vessels in the umbilical cord cross the entrance of the birth canal beneath the baby. Vasa previa occurs in about 1 in every 2,500 to 5,000 deliveries and is more common when an abnormality in the placenta is already present. This life-threatening condition can occur in post-IVF pregnancies; one of the best ways to learn about this condition is to undergo a prenatal diagnosis, which can identify any birth defects. 

If an umbilical cord accident happens, it requires immediate action. If immediate action is not taken, the baby can suffer from lifelong brain damages and in the most severe of circumstances, even death. 

Read more: Medical Negligence Leading to Fetal Distress and Birth Injuries

Can an Umbilical Cord Accident be Prevented?

While this type of accident is usually random and therefore not preventable, there are some characteristics that could suggest a possibility of this kind of accident that both you and your doctor should be aware of. For example, such characteristics can include:

  • Fetal hyperactivity, including jerking movements and hiccups occurring more than four times a day
  • Twisted umbilical cords, as seen during a routine ultrasound
  • Women carrying more than one baby and/or underwent in-vitro fertilization prior to getting pregnant

This is why it’s so important for your doctor to monitor you for any of these characteristics that may indicate an umbilical cord accident during delivery. Identifying a twisted umbilical cord or any other abnormalities can usually be spotted on an ultrasound. If an abnormality is detected, it’s recommended that the mother be hospitalized for at least 24 hours to monitor the baby with a fetal heart monitor and ultrasound. 

If your doctor failed to do this and you want to file a medical malpractice claim, our law firm can help. 

Read more: When a Medical Error Causes Injury During Birth, Is It Malpractice?

Contact a Pittsburgh Medical Malpractice Attorney for a Consultation About Your Birth Injury Case in Pennsylvania

Were you or a loved one injured due to medical malpractice in Pennsylvania? Then you need to talk to an experienced medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible for guidance on how to proceed. The Pittsburgh birth injury attorneys at Matzus Law, LLC are prepared to assist you with your legal claim. We represent victims of negligent surgeons, doctors, nurses, and pharmacists throughout Pennsylvania, including Pittsburgh, Butler, Cranberry, Greensburg and Washington. Call us today at (412) 206-5300 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation. Our main office is located at 310 Grant Street, Suite 3210, Pittsburgh, PA 15219.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.