Risk Factors for Umbilical Cord Birth Injuries

Risk Factors for Umbilical Cord Birth Injuries

by / Friday, 16 September 2022 / Published in Birth Trauma
Sleeping newborn baby.

The good news is that umbilical cord complications are fairly rare. And when they do occur, they very often do not cause any harm to the baby. However, it’s still very important for doctors to take appropriate steps to monitor for potential umbilical cord conditions so that steps can be taken to prevent complications. For example, in some situations, a C-section might be needed to protect the health of the child. 

Umbilical cord conditions are things that are difficult to prevent. Some conditions, such as umbilical cord knots and nuchal cord, are simply the result of the baby normally moving around. And with some conditions, it’s not even medically understood why they occur at all. However, there may be certain risk factors that make umbilical cord complications more likely to occur.

Umbilical Cord Prolapse

Umbilical cord prolapse occurs when the umbilical cord drops into the birth canal. Very often, this does not cause health problems for the baby, but it can cause problems if the cord becomes pinched and restricts oxygen. If this happens, a C-section may be needed to deliver the baby as soon as possible, but in some cases, a doctor may be able to reposition the baby to keep pressure off of the umbilical cord. 

Several risk factors have been linked to umbilical cord prolapse, including: 

  • Premature delivery
  • Carrying multiple babies
  • Long umbilical cord
  • High levels of amniotic fluid
  • Baby in a breech position
  • Low birthweight
  • Membranes were ruptured to start labor

Single Umbilical Artery

Single umbilical artery is a condition that occurs when an umbilical cord only has one artery instead of two. It’s not clear why this condition occurs, but it generally tends to be more common in pregnancies involving multiple babies. In pregnancies that involve just one baby, a single umbilical cord artery occurs in about 1% of all pregnancies, but in pregnancies with multiples, it occurs in about 5% of pregnancies. Approximately 20% of babies who are impacted by single umbilical artery later have health complications related to digestion, the heart, and kidneys, so it’s important that doctors run appropriate screening tests like ultrasounds, echocardiograms, and amniocentesis to check for complications.

Umbilical Cord Knots

Umbilical cord knots are another type of condition that tends to be more common in pregnancies involving multiple babies. This is simply because when multiple babies share one amniotic sac, it’s very easy for umbilical cords to get tangled. Umbilical cord knots also tend to be more likely to occur in pregnancies when the umbilical cord is too long. If an umbilical cord knot gets tight enough to restrict oxygen, a C-section may be needed to safely deliver the baby.

Vasa Previa

Vasa previa is a very rare condition, but when it does occur, it can be very serious. It occurs when blood vessels from either the placenta or the umbilical cord cross the cervix. This puts the blood vessels at risk of tearing during labor or causing other problems because of pressure on the vessels. If a doctor detects vasa previa, a C-section may be needed to avoid problems with bleeding. 

This is another condition that tends to be more common in pregnancies involving multiple babies, but it can also occur when there are problems with the placenta, such as placenta previa or velamentous insertion of the umbilical cord. IVF can also be a risk factor.

Contact a Michigan Birth Injury Lawyer

While umbilical cord conditions can’t necessarily be prevented, they can be detected. If a doctor should have detected a problem or detects a problem and doesn’t react appropriately, it can potentially cause serious complications for the baby. If you believe your child was harmed by a doctor’s negligence, don’t hesitate to contact a birth trauma lawyer. At Goodwin & Scieszka, you’ll be able to get help from a lawyer experienced in helping birth trauma victims in the state of Michigan. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.

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