A nuchal cord refers to an umbilical cord that has wrapped around a baby’s neck. As a complication that occur in roughly 20 to 30 percent of pregnancies, a nuchal cord may or may not have an adverse effect on newborns. However, it does increase risks of birth injuries, including those resulting from lowered blood flow and birth asphyxia, or oxygen deprivation.
Although a nuchal cord cannot cut off all oxygen flow, a compressed, knotted, or prolapsed cord can reduce a baby’s oxygen supply, causing the baby to asphyxiate. Because a nuchal cord involves an umbilical cord wrapped around the neck of the baby, it can reduce blood flow to the brain.
When nuchal cords are detected through ultrasounds, medical professionals can take steps to prevent umbilical cord compression in the weeks prior to birth, or during labor and delivery. Nuchal cords are relatively common, and they can sometimes form, disentangle, and reform. However, when it does persist, it can increase risks of birth asphyxia and serious injuries, including brain damage, cerebral palsy, and other disabilities. Given these risks, it is the standard of care for doctors and nurses to monitor a baby’s heart rate using a fetal heart rate monitor, identify signs of distress, and intervene in a timely and appropriate fashion. This commonly includes performing an emergency C-section.
When medical staff fail to monitor and identify fetal distress, or otherwise delay C-sections and interventions to address complications as a reasonable medical professional would under similar circumstances, resulting injuries to a baby could be the result of medical malpractice. In these situations, victims have a right to explore their options for pursuing birth injury claims that can hold medical professionals accountable for providing substandard care, and liable for the damages families suffer, including their emotional injuries and future medical expenses, among others.
Our Chicago birth injury lawyers at Beam Legal Team advocate for birth injury victims across the country, and have recovered hundreds of millions of dollars on behalves of families that experienced preventable injuries due to medical errors and malpractice. This includes cases involving birth asphyxia. If you would like to discuss your child’s injuries and birth with a member of our legal team to learn if you may have grounds to pursue a claim, contact us for a free consultation.