Expectant parents often relish the various stages of a pregnancy. It is typical to enjoy feeling a developing fetus kick, listening to the heartbeat and deciding on a name. But in some cases, pregnancy quickly shifts from exciting to terrifying when something is wrong with the baby.
One potential complication that is not uncommon is for a baby's umbilical cord to wrap around their neck to some degree during the pregnancy. This is referred to as a nuchal cord.
Typically, a nuchal cord will remain loose, not constricting the baby's movement or blood flow. Though these situations usually resolve themselves, they can present the danger of restricted oxygen flow to the baby if the condition is not properly addressed by your doctor or health care team during delivery.
Treatment of a nuchal cord in utero
The risks associated with a nuchal cord depend on certain factors, which include:
- Fetal growth
- Length of the umbilical cord
- The number of times the cord wraps around the baby's neck
- Gestational age
- The tightness of the cord
- Whether the cord is locked or knotted
Nuchal cords are detectable through ultrasound technology. This provides doctors the ability to properly diagnose and monitor a nuchal cord, or its resolution, throughout the pregnancy.
Many experts agree that a normal fetal heart rate and typical movement indicate the ability to safely deliver your baby. In this case, medical staff would slip the cord over the baby's head during birth.
However, if the fetus is in distress, an emergency cesarean section is in order. This is often followed by cooling therapy, which may provide some recovery in oxygen-deprived infants.
Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE)
Decreased blood and oxygen flow to the baby from a nuchal cord can result in serious medical conditions, such as HIE. In many cases, this brain damage is preventable through proper prenatal monitoring.
As a leading cause of infant fatalities within the United States, HIE is also a main source of severe impairments. These may include epilepsy, developmental delays and affected motor skills.
You may be eligible for damages
Conditions related to brain damage affect a child's ability to thrive. They also put significant financial and emotional strain on a family.
If your doctor was negligent in their care of a nuchal cord or failed to diagnose the seriousness of your situation, you can work to hold him or her accountable. Though there is no fix for the damage done, taking legal action may provide the financial capability to care for the special needs of your child.