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 for their negligence. 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. We know that a birth defect can turn what should be the best day in your life into the worst. Don’t allow a hospital or its staff to get away with their actions. Contact us instead.
The umbilical cord connects the placenta to a fetus’s liver and is a lifeline from mother to baby. Cords come in a variety of sizes, from short to long. There are two arteries and one vein running through the umbilical cord. During pregnancy, the developing fetus does not have a working pair of lungs, so the vein brings oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood to the infant, while 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 fluid that helps give the umbilical cord the support and protection it needs to keep from becoming compressed or constricted.
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: This complication refers to when the umbilical cord is missing an artery. This defect is caused by genetics, and there is no treatment for it. However, if your physician catches the problem, they can monitor your baby’s health, to make sure there are no serious issues. Babies born from mothers with a single umbilical artery often have heart, kidney, and digestion complications as a result. It is incredibly important to watch the development of the baby, so that these issues can be detected early on.
- 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. Infants do not breathe through the mouth and nose until after birth. A nuchal cord is only dangerous if it pulls tight and blocks the flow of oxygen to the child. Longer cords have a higher chance of becoming a nuchal cord and must be monitored accordingly.
- Umbilical cord cysts: Two types of cysts can form on an umbilical cord. The first is true cysts, which are made up of the embryotic remains of either the omphalomesenteric duct (connects the embryo to the embryotic yolk sac) or the allantois (collects liquid waste from the embryo). The second kind is pseudocysts, which are more common than true cysts. They are typically filled with Warton Jelly. Both of these cysts can be found early on using proper medical equipment. If they are not caught and properly treated in time, there is the chance for birth defects.
Bleeds, cord stricture, 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 become hypoxic.
- 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. They are sometimes mistaken for false knots, which puts the baby in incredible danger.
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, according to the National Center for Biotechnological Information (NCBI).
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.
Umbilical cord complications can often be detected and diagnosed during prenatal testing. Your doctor should perform ultrasound exams of the umbilical cord by the second trimester. If the mother has certain risk factors, like a past umbilical cord complication or a longer than average umbilical cord, then these exams should be performed sooner.
If the complication is long term, or chronic, and causes oxygen or nutrient deprivation for the fetus, then prenatal tests should show a decrease in fetal movement and as well as intrauterine growth restriction, which refers to when a fetus is not growing as much as expected. Signs of oxygen deprivation should be taken seriously by your physician, and there should be an immediate plan of action put in place.
Your doctor may not be able to prevent your umbilical cord complication from happening in the first place, but they have a responsibility to act when it becomes clear something is wrong. Otherwise, your baby will likely suffer the consequences of your doctor’s negligence. Proving liability when it comes to these sorts of cases, however, is not open and shut. It can be difficult to determine what exactly caused the birth injuries to begin with. Hospitals have a vested interest in protecting their employees and may not be cooperative in aiding any sort of investigation. That’s why you need an experienced birth injury attorney at your side. A good attorney will investigate your case and get to the bottom of who is liable for your child’s injury in order to hold that party accountable to the full extent of the law.
The damages available in your case vary from state to state. The best way to assess damages is to contact an experienced birth injury lawyer by calling (303) 759-9945.
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 actions of doctors, midwives, nurses and hospitals. If you believe the harm your child suffered could have been avoided with better prenatal care or a c-section delivery – 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.
- March of Dimes: Umbilical Cord Conditions
- Medscape: Umbilical Cord Complications
- Prolapsed Umbilical Cord - Merck Manual