Umbilical Cord Birth Injury Lawyers in New Jersey
Assisting Clients Injured due to Umbilical Cord Problems throughout NJ
The umbilical cord plays a vital role during pregnancy, delivering essential oxygen and nutrients from the mother to the developing fetus. Sometimes, however, the umbilical cord causes slight to serious problems for mother and baby during pregnancy or at delivery. When the cord gets tangled or compressed, grows too much or not enough, or connects poorly to the placenta, known as velamentous insertion, allowing this condition to go undetected or unaddressed may result in catastrophic harm in the form of a birth injury. Adverse umbilical cord conditions such as a prolapsed cord, nuchal cord, umbilical cysts, knotted cord, or single umbilical artery, can seriously compromise the health of your baby and may lead to permanent harm if your doctor fails to diagnose or adequately manage the condition. While the umbilical cord is the baby’s lifeline as it grows and develops, it could also be the source of issues that endanger their life. Due to its importance, healthcare providers must safeguard the baby with investigation, vigilance and preparation for potential problems affecting the umbilical cord. Failure to do so can lead to irreparable harm, and may be considered medical malpractice.
If you or your child was injured due to a doctor or hospital’s negligence handling umbilical cord problems in New Jersey, you may wish to discuss your case with an experienced birth injury attorney who can investigate the circumstances and advise you of your rights. Finding out if medical errors by an obstetrician or another medical professional contributed to your baby being harmed is paramount, as you may be entitled to much-needed financial compensation. To receive personalized legal counsel from lawyers with extensive experience in pregnancy and birth-related malpractice, contact Fronzuto Law Group today. Our skilled team of birth injury lawyers regularly assists clients with birth injury lawsuits across New Jersey and will fight tirelessly for the compensation you and your child deserve. Simply call our local office at 973-435-4551 or fill out our online form for a free consultation.
Understanding the Role of the Umbilical Cord
The umbilical cord is essentially the womb’s jelly-wrapped lifeline, connecting the fetus at the stomach to its mother by the placenta. The cord runs approximately 20 to 22 inches long, containing 3 vital blood vessels, 2 arteries and 1 vein, through which the baby exchanges carbon dioxide-filled blood with nutrient and oxygen-rich blood. Eventually, this vital pathway between the fetus and the placenta delivers immunity-boosting antibodies from the mother to the baby in preparation for the outside world, as a means by which to protect the newborn from infection. When its job is complete, the umbilical cord is cut at delivery, either immediately or soon after birth upon the mother and baby’s initial bonding. When the umbilical cord is cut, the stump will become the baby’s bellybutton. Approximately two weeks after birth, the stump dries, blackens and falls off, taking another week or so to heal completely. Keeping the area clean throughout the healing process can help to prevent infection.
Umbilical Cord Problems
If all goes well, the umbilical cord will serve its purpose and no longer be necessary after your newborn is successfully delivered. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. A problem with the umbilical cord could pose a serious threat to your health and your child’s well-being. As such, conditions affecting the umbilical cord may be detected through ultrasound during pregnancy and must be planned for appropriately to prevent severe complications.
Umbilical Cord Prolapse
One condition requiring emergency preparation is umbilical cord prolapse, which occurs when the umbilical cord enters the vaginal canal before the baby does, pinching off the cord and thus restricting oxygen flow to the baby. Umbilical cord prolapse may represent a serious problem if oxygen restriction occurs and is severe enough to cause brain damage or fetal death (still birth) if the baby is not delivered immediately. Although complications from umbilical cord prolapse are not particularly common, this condition is more likely to occur in premature babies, those with low birthweight, and when the child is in a breech position. It is also more prevalent with long umbilical cords, polyhydramnios (excess amniotic fluid), manually ruptured membranes, and multiple births. Doctors can detect cord prolapse by the baby’s heart rate and a pelvic exam, thereby locating the umbilical cord in the birth canal.
Single Umbilical Artery
Another cord condition, known as single umbilical artery, occurs more commonly in multiple rather than singular pregnancies. The cause of a missing umbilical cord artery is unknown but 20% of babies born with this condition suffer from health problems, such as difficult digestion, heart conditions and kidney dysfunction, along with genetic abnormalities, such as cleft lip. Single umbilical artery is evidenced in ultrasounds, which should prompt your doctor to order more detailed ultrasounds, amniocentesis, and echocardiogram to assess the baby’s health. Amniocentesis is a process for testing amniotic fluid for birth defects, while echocardiogram is a test to check the baby’s heart health.
When umbilical cord or placenta blood vessels settle in an area between the cervix and the baby, a rare condition called vasa previa, the force of labor can tear a blood vessel or vessels and cause the baby to hemorrhage. In fact, pressure on blood vessels alone can cause problems in the baby. It occurs most often with velamentous insertion, placenta previa (low-lying placenta that covers the uterus), and multiple births. A healthcare provider often discovers velamentous insertion and vasa previa during pregnancy in an ultrasound or a pelvic exam.
Nuchal cord and umbilical cord knots are also known pregnancy and delivery complications. A cord around the baby’s neck at delivery, called a nuchal cord, can be easily removed if detected in advance via ultrasound. However, nuchal cord can affect fetal heart rate. In addition, identical twins that share the same amniotic sac and a long cord are more susceptible to cord knots, which can restrict oxygen delivery and result in miscarriage or still birth. If umbilical cord knots are detected during an ultrasound, the baby should likely be delivered via cesarean section.
Umbilical Cord Cyst
Finally, umbilical cord cysts can endanger a baby if ruptured at birth. Cysts, or fluid-filled sacs, formed in the early months of pregnancy are typically harmless, depending on the type. True cysts, located close to the site of connection between umbilical cord and baby, contain embryonic fluid and may disappear naturally. The more common pseudocysts appear on the umbilical cord and are formed from the jelly-like protection surrounding the cord, called Wharton’s jelly. False cysts may signal birth defects, but further tests beyond the ultrasound that showed the cysts should be ordered by a treating doctor to probe further. Large cysts may require cesarean section delivery to protect the baby from suffering complications during labor and delivery.
Failure to Identify or Manage Umbilical Cord Conditions may be Medical Negligence
Physicians most often recommend cesarean delivery for umbilical cord defects or conditions. However, the cord defect or problem must be detected early to prepare and safeguard the health and safety of the mother and baby during delivery. Appropriate and adequate testing to monitor a dangerous umbilical cord condition and probe further to identify a potential genetic condition affecting the fetus is critical. If your doctor or healthcare team negligently failed to diagnose your baby’s umbilical cord problem, failed to take appropriate steps to prepare for and address the issue, or made mistakes during a C-section delivery, your infant may have been left to suffer the consequences. In some situations, failure to diagnose or appropriately manage a problem of the umbilical cord can lead to:
- Lack of oxygen and fetal distress
- Hypoxic or anoxic brain injury
- Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE)
- Cerebral Palsy
- Delayed development
- Mental impairment
- Learning difficulties
- Stillbirth or infant death
Get NJ Umbilical Cord Malpractice Lawyer Help Today
If your baby is not thriving or suffering from various ailments since birth due to mistakes handling an umbilical cord condition, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice claim. Whether the doctor failed to run the right tests, correctly diagnose the problem, or adequately prepare for your baby’s delivery, it is critical to know and understand the options that may be available to you. Recovering damages after a birth injury or pregnancy related malpractice can provide financial resources that you and your child need for medical expenses, loss of income, necessary future treatments and therapies, and undue pain and suffering. Our attorneys at Fronzuto Law Group are here to listen to your unique circumstances regarding umbilical cord defects and negligence by a healthcare provider or facility in New Jersey, and provide the answers you need. Contact us now at 973-435-4551 for more information and a free consultation.