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What Parents Should Know About Nuchal Cord

You await your baby’s birth with bated breath. As they come into the world you’re shocked to learn their skin is grey and they have the umbilical cord around their neck. This condition is known as nuchal cord and while it rarely leads to complications, it can be frightening. Therefore, it is important that parents understand what this condition means and the long-term risks associated with it.

What is a Nuchal Cord?

Nuchal cord describes situations where the umbilical cord becomes wrapped around the baby’s neck during labor or delivery. While the baby isn’t breathing with their lungs at this time, the twist in the cord can restrict oxygen flow, increasing the risk of birth hypoxia. This can also happen when the cord becomes knotted, due to powerful, drug-induced contractions.

That said, a nuchal cord is extremely common, occurring in about 1-in-3 U.S. births. Because this condition is so common, doctors often untangle the cord as the baby’s head comes through the birth canal. In some cases they may not mention it to the family.

This can be troublesome if your baby develops birth hypoxia or other latent injuries because it may be difficult to prove your baby was impacted by a cord-related complication.

What are the Dangers of Nuchal Cord?

Nuchal cord looks serious. Babies born with this condition are typically grey for the first few minutes of life, resulting in lower APGAR scores. However, this is temporary and color will return when the baby starts breathing naturally.

The real risk of nuchal cord comes from either the extremely rare knotted cord or when labor is delayed or stopped while the cord is constrained. Prenatal care may determine that the baby has nuchal cord throughout the pregnancy, but it may not become a problem until there’s stress on the cord during the birthing process or due to powerful contractions.

If doctors suspect the baby is at risk or if there are signs of fetal distress, they may opt for an emergency c-section to reduce tension on the cord and reduce the risk of birth hypoxia and other injuries.

To schedule a free case consultation with an experienced Atlanta birth injury attorney from The Mabrey Firm, don’t hesitate to give us a call at (404) 814-5098 or send us an email.