Umbilical cord prolapse and HIE, or to put the issue a different way, how can in some cases a baby with a prolapsed umbilical cord experience the medical condition HIE, or hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy? For many parents, these conditions can be a shock and are only revealed when there are concerns regarding their child’s future. Although umbilical cord prolapse can be a rare condition, in some instances it can give rise to serious medical conditions.


In this birth injury educational article, and supporting video, I will discuss how umbilical cord prolapse can contribute to a HIE condition in some instances. If you are a family that is dealing with this situation, know that there are professionals that you can speak to regarding your future concerns.




When the umbilical cord is delivered before the baby, this condition is called umbilical cord prolapse. During a typical delivery, as the baby makes its way down the birth canal, it will usually do this headfirst. The umbilical cord will be delivered after the head has come through the birth canal. According to some statistics, the condition can occur in 1 per 300 live births.


The umbilical cord plays an important role for a baby. It is responsible for a lot of life sustaining functions for the baby. For example, the umbilical cord is responsible for blood and oxygen getting to the baby. The cord is usually composed of a 3-cord vessel, which includes 2 arteries and 1 vein. Some cords develop with 1 artery and 1 vein. These are classified as a 2-cord vessel. Regardless, the umbilical cord is the baby’s lifeline to mom.




When the umbilical cord is delivered ahead of the baby, one of the more serious conditions doctors and nurses must be aware of is compression of the cord. Cord compression can be caused by many things, but in this situation, for example, the baby’s head can pin the cord against the birth canal.


Since the umbilical cord is responsible for the baby’s blood and oxygen, compression of the cord can create disturbances in the flow of blood and oxygen. During labor and delivery, the electronic fetal heart monitor can keep doctors and nurses updated as to how well a baby is tolerating a vaginal delivery. During compression issues, the fetal heart monitor may show a sudden drop in the baby’s heart rate.


HIE, or hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, in this context is viewed as a reduced level of blood and oxygen, which leads to an injury to the brain. As I mentioned above, when a prolapsed umbilical cord is compressed, a reduction in blood and oxygen can occur. It is during this time, the threat of HIE can present itself.


During investigations into the reason for a baby’s brain injury, on behalf of families, umbilical cord compression is one area of serious concern. If the compression is included in the baby’s fetal distress, the actions, or inactions, of doctors and nurses is critical. Although a baby can deal with the stress of labor and delivery, this does not mean that a baby can go on forever in continued distress. Eventually, the fetal reserves will become depleted and serious injury to the baby can occur if doctors do not work to help the baby.




To speak with me further regarding your baby’s brain injury at birth, and the presence of umbilical cord prolapse, this is what I invite you to do. Pick up the phone and give me a call. I talk with families all the time about birth injury issues. These issues range from what we talked about in above regarding HIE, but also cerebral palsy and other birth trauma issues.


You can reach me at 301-850-4832.


Marcus B. Boston, Esq.

Boston Law Group, LLC

2 Wisconsin Circle, Suite 700

Chevy Chase, Maryland 20815


1-833-4 BABY HELP

Marcus Boston is a Maryland medical malpractice attorney who helps people navigate the Maryland childbirth injury and medical malpractice process to get money for their injuries caused by the carelessness of doctors and hospitals. BLG handles cases in Prince George’s County, Baltimore City, Montgomery County, Howard County, Anne Arundel County, and all other Maryland Counties.