The umbilical cord represents the baby’s lifeline. Through the umbilical cord, oxygenated blood and nutrients are transported from the placenta to the baby. Any disruption in normal blood flow and gas exchange through the umbilical cord can lead to potentially devastating injuries to the baby, including asphyxia and the development of hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy.
An umbilical cord prolapse, or a prolapsed cord, generally refers to a condition where the umbilical cord descends or falls ahead of the part of the baby that is being delivered, often referred to as the “presenting part.” Umbilical cord prolapse, or a prolapsed cord, can result in a sudden and potentially devastating reduction in the supply of oxygenated blood from the placenta to the baby through the umbilical cord.
Additionally, umbilical cord prolapse, or a prolapsed cord, can result in vasospasm of the blood vessels through the umbilical cord. Also, a prolapsed cord may decrease in temperature. Both of these conditions can also significantly impair the transfer of oxygenated blood to the baby.
Umbilical cord prolapse, or a prolapsed cord, is frequently associated with the “malpresentation” of the baby. Instead of being in the vertex position, where the head of the baby is at or near the pelvic inlet, “malpresentation” refers to those situations where some other part of the baby, such as the baby’s buttocks or feet, present at or near the mother’s pelvic inlet. Accordingly, whenever a baby is assessed as being in a breach or transverse lie presentation, the safe and careful health care provider will be alert to the potentially grave risks associated with umbilical cord prolapse, or a prolapsed cord.
Umbilical cord prolapse, or a prolapsed cord, is also frequently associated with the artificial rupture of the maternal membranes, also known as amniotomy. In many cases, maternal membranes are artificially ruptured before the fetal head is secure in the pelvic inlet. Thus, when the maternal membranes are artificially ruptured, umbilical cord prolapse or a prolapsed cord occurs.
Because of the increased risk of umbilical cord prolapse or a prolapsed cord associated with the artificial rupture of membranes, or amniotomy, the safe and careful obstetrician will always determine that the fetal head is secure in the maternal pelvic inlet before artificially rupturing membranes.
A prolapsed umbilical cord, or a prolapsed cord, represents an obstetrical emergency, which can quickly result in permanent neurologic damage in the baby or even death.
Accordingly, the prompt assessment of umbilical cord prolapse, or prolapsed cord, is critical to the implementation of appropriate medical interventions, which often include emergency cesarean delivery.
When an umbilical cord prolapse or a prolapsed cord occurs, the baby will be at extreme risk for suffering hypoxia, or the loss of oxygen, thereby leading to such potentially severe consequences as permanent brain injury, cerebral palsy or even death.
The Law Firm of Dugan, Babij, Tolley & Kohler, LLC has extensive experience in representing families whose loved ones have died or been injured as a result of medical malpractice associated with the management of a patient with umbilical cord prolapse or a prolapsed cord.