A serious complication of some births is that of umbilical cord strangulation. If your baby suffered harm as a result of cord strangulation and asphyxia that would not have occurred but for an act of medical malpractice, call our birth injury lawyers at the Preszler Law Firm for representation you can trust.
The manner in which a mother’s body is able to grow, nourish, and care for a developing child is nothing short of amazing. Three critical parts of a developing fetus’s life support system are the placenta, umbilical cord, and amniotic sac. As the baby develops, these three elements work in conjunction to provide nutrients and protection to the infant. In most cases, gestation and delivery go as planned without complication; in some instances, however, problems during development or delivery may occur, including umbilical cord abnormalities, and in severe cases, umbilical cord strangulation and fetal asphyxia. Fortunately, most of the time, this issue is either foreseeable and preventable or entirely treatable; however, if an obstetrician or other healthcare provider fails to take action quickly enough, long-term or fatal harm to the infant may result. At the office of the Preszler Law Firm, our cord strangulation/asphyxia and birth injury lawyers can help you to understand whether or not you have a case against a healthcare provider or hospital, and if so, what steps to take next to recover the compensation that your family deserves.
What Does the Umbilical Cord do?
The development of life within a mother’s womb would not be possible without the umbilical cord. The umbilical cord attaches the growing fetus to the placenta and carries nutrients and oxygen from the placenta to the fetus. In addition to providing the fetus with oxygen and nutrients, the umbilical cord also carries waste products and carbon dioxide away from the baby and back toward the placenta.
Umbilical Cord Complications
Sometimes, umbilical cord complications develop in utero. The range of umbilical cord problems and abnormalities are numerous, and include everything from false knots to vasa previa (a condition in which some of the blood vessels that are typically contained within the umbilical cord cross or run near the internal opening of the uterus) and more. One of the most serious umbilical cord complications is a situation in which the cord becomes wrapped or tangled around the fetus’s neck, either pre-delivery or during delivery. Risk factors for umbilical cord strangulation and other umbilical cord problems, including umbilical cord compression which cuts off nutrient and oxygen supply to the baby, include, but are not limited to:
- Too little amniotic fluid;
- Too much amniotic fluid;
- Umbilical cord length (an umbilical cord that is unusually long is at greater risk of becoming knotted);
- Multiple births (i.e. twins or triplets);
- Breech position during delivery; and
- Fetal hyperactivity (which can lead to cord compression).
The Risks of Umbilical Cord Compression or Strangulation
As stated above, when an umbilical cord is compressed, this compression may result in a decreased flow of oxygen or nutrients to the baby, as well as a decrease in the ability of the cord to move waste products away from the baby. When a developing fetus does not receive the nutrients or oxygen that it needs, there may be serious complications that result, including fetal asphyxia (a condition characterized by a lack of adequate oxygen to the fetus), brain injury, cognitive disabilities, developmental disabilities, and even death.
In addition to umbilical cord compression, another concern is that of the umbilical cord becoming wrapped around the baby’s neck; this is known as a nuchal cord. While most nuchal cords are actually completely harmless and occur as a result of a baby’s movements, nuchal cords can be dangerous. If the cord is wrapped around the neck or another body part and is too tightly compressed, blood flow through the cord can decrease, especially during a mother’s contractions. As a result, the baby’s heart rate may slow significant during contractions, and in some cases, the complication can even result in a stillbirth.
Treatment for Umbilical Cord Compression/Strangulation and Fetal Asphyxia
Obstetricians and other medical professionals owe a high duty of care to their patients. For expecting mothers, this begins with properly monitoring mother and baby and accurately diagnosing any complications, including the presence of a nuchal cord or other umbilical cord complication. Most nuchal cords can be diagnosed using ultrasound technology. The failure to properly monitor a mother and baby or properly diagnose a nuchal cord or other cord complication may be considered medical malpractice.
Once an umbilical cord complication has been diagnosed, a doctor is also responsible for adhering to the medical standard of care in treating the patient. This might include slipping the cord over the baby’s head during vaginal delivery, using what is known as the somersault technique, clamping and removing the cord prior to delivery of the shoulders (once the baby’s head has emerged from the birth canal), or performing an emergency c-section. The failure to take proper action can have life-changing consequences, including long-term impairment for the infant or death.
Our Lawyers Will Advocate for You
When a physician acts outside of the medical standard of care and harm results, the doctor may be held liable for any damages. This is also true for birth injury cases; while some birth injuries occur despite a doctor’s best intentions and efforts, others would never happen but for medical malpractice.
When you call our birth injury lawyers at the Preszler Law Firm, we will handle your case with the sensitivity and dedication it deserves. We understand what you are going through and will be responsible for investigating your case, proving that your doctor breached the medical standard of care owed to you, hiring other experts and medical professionals, building your claim, calculating your damages, and negotiating with insurance companies.
Reach Us Today for Your Free Consultation
To schedule a free consultation with our Ontario birth injury lawyers following an umbilical cord strangulation/asphyxia birth injury and your baby’s harm, please reach out to us online or by phone. Our lawyers will work hard on your behalf.