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What are the dangers associated with a nuchal cord?

One of the biggest fears of professionals who deliver babies is an infant being born with the umbilical cord wrapped around their neck. It can result in life-altering injuries or the death of a baby if this happens.

The umbilical cord is the lifeline for your baby to receive nutrients, blood and oxygen when in utero. The later a woman progresses in her pregnancy, the more apt a nuchal cord phenomenon, or an instance in which the umbilical cord wraps around a baby’s neck, is to happen.

A 2018 study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that 30% of all babies were born with their umbilical cords wrapped around their necks. The study’s authors reported that most of these incidents didn’t cause any long-term effects for the newborn. Parents and their babies aren’t always as fortunate, though.

Obstetricians often perform physical exams before delivery to see if there’s a nuchal cord. If the doctor finds this to the case, they’re generally able to loosen it and then slip it over the baby’s head. They may clamp the cord and then cut it before delivering the baby’s shoulders if they cannot manually loosen it.

One of the dangers of moms not receiving regular medical attention and physical exams during their pregnancy is that they may not know that their baby has a nuchal cord. Any fetus who suffers a prolonged deprivation of oxygen, nutrients or blood has an increased risk of a decreased heart rate, a low Apgar score, or a post-birth viability index, a stillbirth and growth problem.

Most nuchal cord situations aren’t caused by something the mother did wrong. They primarily occur as a result of the baby moving around in the womb. Doctors can sometimes identify this problem while performing ultrasounds.

While doctors should notice a nuchal cord when performing physical exams before the delivery, an inexperienced, distracted or hurried obstetrician may not note such a situation. The deprivation of oxygen, blood and nutrients to the baby may result in brain damage or other neurological conditions and even death. An attorney can advise you of your right to sue a doctor for medical malpractice if their negligence caused harm to your baby.