Umbilical Cord Complication Lawyers in Denver
Oxygen deprivation is the biggest danger facing unborn babies. But as prenatal ultrasounds and fetal monitoring have grown increasingly sophisticated in the U.S., the medical profession has fewer excuses for children born with severe birth injuries.
Many umbilical cord conditions can be diagnosed in utero. Some can be detected early in labor and delivery. Others are associated with related conditions, such as placental abruption or twins sharing the same placenta. Birth defects and brain damage are all possible outcomes of an untreated umbilical cord complication. An emergency cesarean-section delivery may be necessary to save the baby’s life.
When OB/GYNs and neonatal nurses fail to intervene in time to prevent lifelong injury or death, they should be held accountable to the child’s family. That is where Leventhal Puga Braley P.C. comes in. Our trial lawyers are based in Denver, but we handle serious medical malpractice claims across the United States. Please call (303) 759-9945 to set up a free initial consultation.
During pregnancy, the developing fetus does not have a working pair of lungs. The umbilical cord connects the placenta to a fetus’s liver and is a lifeline from mother to baby. There are two arteries and one vein running through the umbilical cord. The vein brings oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood to the infant; the two arteries take carbon dioxide and waste products to the mother’s circulatory system for removal. The inside of the cord contains Wharton’s jelly, a special cushioning material.
Cords come in a variety of sizes, from a “short” 35 centimeters to an average 55-60 centimeters to a “long” 80 centimeters and over.
Thousands of delicate processes are going on while a child develops in the womb. During pregnancy, when the fetal tissue is dividing and forming itself into placenta, cord, and fetus, many things can affect the umbilical cord, such as:
- Vasa previa: This often-fatal condition occurs when the blood vessels of the umbilical cord are planted close to or run across the mother’s cervical opening. These vessels are within the membranes, unsupported by the tough umbilical cord or placental tissue, and can rupture if the membranes are damaged.
- Single umbilical artery (SUA): A “two-vessel cord” diagnosis means that the fetus has a vein, but only one artery to remove waste products and deoxygenated blood. This complication is not well understood, but a color-flow Doppler ultrasound machine may be used to detect it. Babies with this condition are at increased risk of birth defects, such as heart, kidney, and spinal problems, as well as a genetic abnormality called VATER: vertebral defects, anal atresia, transesophageal fistula with esophageal atresia, and radial dysplasia. They are also more likely to have growth problems in the womb and be born prematurely.
- Nuchal cord: When a cord is wrapped around a part of the baby’s body (often, the neck), it is termed “nuchal cord” – but it may not automatically be cause for alarm. Since infants do not breathe through the mouth and nose until after birth, nuchal cord is only a danger if it pulls tight and blocks the flow of oxygen to the child. Longer cords create more danger of nuchal cord and must be monitored accordingly.
Bleeds, cord stricture, cysts, and tumors have also been known to occur, and prenatal care should include medical providers looking for these conditions. Meanwhile, during delivery, the greatest danger to the baby comes in the form of umbilical cord compression – any kinks or pressure on the cord can cut off the oxygen supply, leading to birth asphyxia, cerebral palsy, or other systemic damage. Compression can come in the form of:
- Cord prolapse: Umbilical cord prolapse occurs when a portion of the cord drops through the birth canal prior to the infant. When the infant descends, it squeezes the cord against the side of the birth canal. If labor is prolonged, the baby will run out of stored oxygen and begin to suffocate.
- True knot: It is possible to have false knots or pseudoknots in an umbilical cord, which are of no clinical significance. However, true knots – when the cord wraps around itself and pulls tight – are life-threatening to the child, and they are sometimes mistaken for false knots. This is a danger with longer cords and a more active baby.
After delivery, the umbilical cord, if clamped properly, should fall off harmlessly. However, if unsanitary tools are used or the wound is not cleaned after birth, you may see:
- Infected stump (omphalitis): A red, swollen, or pus-filled cord is a sign of infection. Since this area has direct access to the bloodstream, even a “minor” infection can lead to septic shock in a vulnerable newborn, where the body’s organs or tissues may suffer severe damage. Omphalitis has a 15% mortality rate and is considered a medical emergency. (Healthline)
Many mothers are at higher risk than others for these complications, and their physicians are required to run tests, take imaging, and monitor them carefully. When they don’t, and a child is born with a serious injury, one doctor’s negligence is to blame. We believe it is only fair that the doctor (and his or her malpractice insurance) pay for the child’s future care.
The personal injury lawyers at Leventhal Puga Braley P.C. are deeply involved in birth injury litigation. We have handled hundreds of these cases across the country, and we have gotten justice for many families hurt by the negligent action of so-called “professionals.” If you believe the harm your child suffered could have been avoided with better prenatal care or a scheduled c-section - you may be right. When you contact us, we will review your medical records at no charge. If we can help you pursue compensation for your child, we will do so at no upfront cost, only taking payment after we get you a verdict or satisfactory settlement.
We aren’t just nationally acclaimed trial lawyers – we are parents ourselves. And as parents, we will stand with you and put your child’s well-being first. Call our team at (303) 759-9945 to get started.