Birth Injuries

How Umbilical Cord Prolapse Can Lead To A Brain Injury (Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy)

A lack, or reduced level of blood and oxygen for the baby is one of the most serious threats associated with an umbilical cord prolapse. With that being said, the doctor must accurately diagnose umbilical cord prolapse and remain consistent within the standard of care. Failure to do so can lead to a brain injury.

If the umbilical cord delivers before the baby, cord compression can happen because when the umbilical cord contracts, the baby is moved down the birth canal. While the baby passes down the canal, pressure increases, and this same pressure can be placed on the umbilical cord. The baby’s head, or buttocks/feet during a breech delivery can place a considerable amount of pressure on the umbilical cord. This can ultimately lead not only to fetal hypoxia and hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), but also fetal death.

The electronic fetal heart monitor provides alerts to the doctors when the readings move from “reassuring” to “non-reassuring”. For instance, if the fetal heart rate has a sudden drop for an extended amount of time (bradycardia), blood and oxygen problems can be the result for the baby. Additionally, the strips may show late decelerations and minimal variability, among other items. The inability to see these signs along with taking the necessary precautions, can lead to a serious injury in the baby, like HIE and a subsequent cerebral palsy diagnosis, or death.

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