An umbilical cord prolapse occurs when the umbilical cord precedes the baby down the birth canal. The umbilical cord can be washed into the vagina during the rupture of the membranes. Thereafter, when the baby’s head gets locked into position, it can put pressure on the umbilical cord, cutting off the flow of blood and oxygen. This is a medical emergency that can cause brain damage or stillbirth of a child.
Umbilical cord prolapse is a statistically rare event, happening in less than 1% (0.14% to 0.62%) of all births. However, even at the low end, there are almost 6,000 births every year complicated by this dangerous condition. The Ohio prolapsed umbilical cord attorneys at The Becker Law Firm are well positioned to help families determine whether an umbilical cord prolapse and resulting birth injuries were caused by negligence. We have obtained significant settlements for clients in cases involving umbilical cord prolapse.
Contact our firm today for a free, no-risk consultation. Call (440) 252-4399 or fill out and submit an online contact form.
Causes and Risk Factors for Umbilical Cord Prolapse
Umbilical cord prolapse and the problems associated with it can happen at any point in pregnancy. You do not have to be in labor for it to occur.
Some of the causes and risk factors include:
- Premature Rupture of Membranes (PROM)
- Premature labor
- Twins, Triplets, and delivery of multiples
- Excessive amniotic fluid
- Extremely long umbilical cord (over 24 inches)
- Breech delivery (baby is feet down)
- Walking after rupturing of membranes
If a pregnant woman’s membranes have ruptured, she should not get up and walk—even to go to the bathroom. Doing so can increase the risk of an umbilical cord prolapse. We have represented clients in cases in which a nurse or other obstetrical caregiver who should have known better allowed a woman to walk around after her water had broken.
Not every case of umbilical cord prolapse is caused by negligence. However, failure to quickly respond to this emergency can result in irreversible brain damage and may be the basis for negligence. Our lawyers can review the facts of your case and determine whether malpractice was involved.
The Standard of Care for Obstetricians Faced with Umbilical Cord Prolapse
The first step is for the obstetrician to identify an umbilical cord prolapse. Sometimes it is obvious because the umbilical cord will come out of the vagina. In other cases, the doctor should check for a cord prolapse with a pelvic examination if the baby’s heart rate goes below 120 beats per minute, a dangerous condition known as bradycardia. The baby’s heart rate should be monitored using electronic fetal monitoring.
Once an umbilical cord prolapse is apparent, obstetricians must follow prescribed guidelines in order to ensure that the baby remains properly oxygenated. Failure to do so can lead to fetal distress. The doctor should try to remove the pressure on the cord.
If the doctor cannot stop the bradycardia by repositioning the mother to relieve the pressure of the baby on the umbilical cord, the only option is to deliver the baby immediately. If the labor is far enough along, some doctors might try using forceps or a vacuum extractor, which must be used carefully or the baby is at risk of additional injuries. Typically, the correct response to an umbilical cord prolapse is an emergency cesarean section.
Injuries Caused By Failure to Properly Treat Umbilical Cord Prolapse
If not identified and treated in a timely manner, babies who experience umbilical cord prolapse will be without oxygen, blood, and other nutrients for precious minutes of their early lives.
Every moment is critical and can cause irreversible injury, including:
If your doctor did not timely identify an umbilical cord prolapse or did not correctly or quickly deliver your baby when the emergency was known, you and your child may be entitled to a birth injury lawsuit that will help you to pay for past and future medical treatment.
Contact our Ohio prolapsed umbilical cord lawyers online or by phone at (440) 252-4399 for a discussion about how we can help you get answers.