Super Lawyers
Illinois State Bar Association
Justia Lawyer Rating
Million Dollar Advocates Forum
Avvo Rating
BBB Accredited Business

Nuchal Cord Complications

Medical Malpractice: Nuchal Cord Birth Injuries

birth-injury-nuchal-cord-lawsuit Did your delivery involve the umbilical cord wrapped around your baby's neck? Did your newborn experience oxygen deprivation that led to childbirth injuries, like cerebral palsy, because the doctor failed to act quickly?

At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys handle fetal death and severe injury cases and can help your family too. Call a birth injury attorney at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) or use the contact form today to schedule a free case evaluation.

A nuchal cord is a common occurrence during pregnancy when labor begins, and the umbilical cord is wrapped around the child's neck. A nuchal cord is the fairly common medical term detailing umbilical cord problems that could lead to intrapartum complications (labor onset), increased fetal heart rate abnormalities, and a greater risk for birth asphyxia.

While the mere presence of a nuchal cord is common, especially when the umbilical cord is loosely wrapped, restriction or tightening of the umbilical cord is cause for concern because it can deprive the child's brain of needed oxygen and nutrients.

To avoid permanent injuries, like brain damage or developmental delays, the doctor might recommend an emergency cesarean delivery to remove the umbilical cord from the fetus' neck and improve oxygenated blood flow.

Nuchal Cord Complications

A nuchal cord injury is a severe complication when the umbilical cord is wrapped around the baby's neck at least once. Nuchal cords occur in about 35% of all pregnancies.

Fortunately, nuchal cords do not negatively impact a pregnancy's outcome by depriving the newborn of oxygen. Oxygen deprivation occurs when the umbilical cord is too tight.

There are specific types of nuchal cord complications that pose significant health risks to the newborn. In these cases, a nuchal cord problem can interrupt normal blood flow, oxygen exchange, and nutrient delivery to the baby's tissue, organs, and brain.

C-Section Pregnancies

If the doctor diagnoses a nuchal cord, the medical professionals should carefully monitor and manage the problem. Typically, the baby with a nuchal cord complication can still be delivered vaginally if the delivery team follows established maneuvers to help prevent severe complications.

A planned cesarean section or emergency C-section is sometimes required to overcome the nuchal cord condition to prevent childbirth injuries. In addition, the obstetrician might attempt a 'somersault delivery' when the umbilical cord is wrapped too tightly to slip over the baby's head and shoulders.

Representing Families of Children With Umbilical Cord Issues and Nuchal Cord Complications

Failure to respond appropriately to fetal distress brought on by an umbilical cord problem can cause severe birth injuries or even death. In addition, your family may be entitled to economic and non-economic damages resulting from a nuchal cord birth injury.

Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC has a team of attorneys, nurses, and other experts available to represent the families of any child whose nuchal cord birth injuries result from medical malpractice or an act of medical negligence.

Contact our attorneys today for a free consultation.

Types of Nuchal Cords

An unborn baby who is carried to full term is more likely to have some form of nuchal cord, with as many as one out of three exhibiting a nuchal cord at one point or more during the pregnancy. As the second trimester progresses, the risks to the fetus increase.

In utero, nuchal cords can cause damage to the placenta, such as placental abruption. An abruption, where the placenta separates from the uterus, can deprive the unborn baby of essential nutrients in the womb that they need to develop.

Long Umbilical Cord Problems

The length of the umbilical cord could be a contributing factor to many childbirth injuries. A longer umbilical cord can wrap around the baby's neck numerous times, leading to lifelong health conditions and developmental delays that impact the baby's quality of life.

An umbilical cord wrapped too tight around the baby's neck could deprive the brain of much-needed oxygen and nutrients, compromise the baby's health, and stunt fetal growth. In addition, blood and oxygen deprivation can affect the baby's heart rate, leading to severe medical conditions.

Cerebral Palsy, Hypoxic-ischemic Encephalopathy & Brain Injury

An umbilical cord wrapped around the baby's neck could lead to intellectual delay, developmental delay, brain damage, cerebral palsy, hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), or other severe birth injuries. Additionally, the physician may recommend hypothermia therapy "cooling therapy" as a partial cure to oxygen deprivation caused by umbilical cord birth injuries.

In some cases, the umbilical cord unwraps itself, while in others, it may fully wrap itself around the baby's neck multiple times due to excessive fetal movement. Nuchal cords are often categorized as single nuchal cord, double nuchal cord, etc. Doctors typically define a "tight" nuchal cord as an umbilical cord that cannot be slipped over the baby's head during vaginal delivery.

Nuchal Cord Categories

Infants born with single and multiple nuchal cord injuries could involve:

  • Type A Nuchal Cord— A 'type A' nuchal cord is a severe complication where a loose umbilical cord wraps around the child's neck, but a loose nuchal cord may be easily corrected before or during delivery.
  • Type B Nuchal Cord— 'Type B' nuchal cords are more dangerous because the umbilical cord forms a true knot around the baby's neck and cannot be undone. Umbilical cord knots can cut off blood flow and cause birth asphyxia, brain damage, and other birth injuries.

Close monitoring for umbilical cord knots is needed to detect fetal distress, and an emergency cesarean section may be required by the medical team to save the child's life, remove the umbilical cord around the neck or avoid serious injury.

Physicians, nurses, and medical technicians can use fetal monitoring with ultrasounds to identify umbilical cord problems and prevent complications when a nuchal cord is diagnosed. Unfortunately, many severe nuchal cord birth injuries happen from a lack of adequate fetal monitoring or medical negligence during pregnancy.

The ultrasound or signs of distress during a biophysical profile or non-stress test might identify a nuchal loop. In addition, monitoring will reveal an abnormal heart rate during labor and delivery and pick up any deprivation of oxygen the baby is experiencing.

Diagnosing and Misdiagnosing Nuchal Cords

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), umbilical cord complications, including nuchal cords and birth asphyxia, pose serious risks of developing cerebral palsy, physical functioning problems, cognitive issues, and stillbirth.

The most common birth injuries related to nuchal cord problems include hypoxia and birth asphyxia. These conditions can lead to serious physical complications, cognitive impairment, epilepsy, developmental delays, or cerebral palsy.

Doctors can misdiagnose nuchal cords for other conditions, complications, or tissue, including amniotic fluid pockets, fetal skinfolds, and a posterior cystic neck mass. The umbilical cord might be near the fetal neck but does not wrap around it.

Detecting nuchal cords with single or multiple loops for most babies is not problematic. The doctor can use color Doppler imaging to provide a more accurate diagnosis than the test results of a grey-scaled ultrasound.

Nuchal cords often form early in the pregnancy, become undone, form again, and do not cause a problem during delivery due to excessive fetal movement or too much amniotic fluid where the baby is born healthy.

Parents should not worry about an early diagnosis identifying a nuchal cord during the second trimester or early third trimester. The presence of a nuchal cord where the umbilical cord wraps around the baby's neck early in the pregnancy does not mean it will be present during late-stage pregnancy, labor, or delivery.

Nuchal Cord Treatment

Single and multiple nuchal cords are easily identified through an ultrasound, which may be ordered if there is a decrease in fetal activity during the third trimester of the pregnancy. If the umbilical cord is wrapped loosely or tightly, the delivering doctor will make efforts to untangle the cord during the delivery to prevent harmful cord compression.

If these efforts fail, the umbilical cord might be clamped and cut, or a cesarean section may be ordered depending on the length of labor and difficulty of the delivery.

Umbilical Compression

Failure to resolve an umbilical cord wrapped around the neck showing signs of compression can result in permanent injury or brain damage due to lack of oxygen and may even cause the death of the newborn.

Medical staff should know the risk factors for umbilical problems. Based on these factors, they should use a fetal monitor as the baby makes its way through the birth canal past the cervix. They should check for any sign of fetal distress.

Anything less would be a breach of the standard of care required for doctors. In addition, the delivery staff must monitor a child with a nuchal cord for fetal distress and take prompt action if the compressed umbilical cord threatens the child's life.

Medical Malpractice

While it is never the intent of a doctor to harm a child, if nuchal cord birth injuries that forever change the quality of the child's life are the result of medical malpractice, compensation must be provided for the child's future needs.

In addition to the nuchal cord, physicians must also monitor for conditions such as umbilical cord prolapse, which can also be dangerous. A prolapsed umbilical cord occurs when the cord moves ahead of the fetus into the birth canal and may cut off blood flow.

Umbilical cord prolapse is another birth emergency that may require a cesarean section surgery to deliver the baby without brain damage or injury to the mother.

Lawyers for Nuchal Cord Birth Injury Cases

Did your loved one suffer a birth injury like cerebral palsy due to the doctor's negligence? Did physicians fail to perform a cesarean delivery, and your baby was deprived of oxygen during birth?

At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC, our birth injury attorneys represent clients throughout all of Illinois whose babies have been harmed due to acts of negligence or malpractice during birth. Our Chicago, IL, birth injury attorneys have years of experience with the knowledge required to win or settle your case.

Contact our law firm at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the online contact form today to schedule a free consultation. Learn about your rights and legal options. We will review the facts of your case and obtain the necessary medical records to help you file your claim about the quality of medical care that your child received.

All information you share with our law office remains confidential through an attorney-client relationship.


Many medical malpractice cases have already been resolved through million-dollar settlements to ensure families have sufficient financial compensation for providing all the treatment and caring their child requires.

Client Reviews
Jonathan Rosenfeld was professionally objective, timely, and knowledgeable. Also, his advice was extremely effective regarding my case. In addition, Jonathan was understanding and patient pertaining to any of my questions or concerns. I was very happy with the end result and I highly recommend Jonathan Rosenfeld. Michonne Proulx
Extremely impressed with this law firm. They took control of a bad motorcycle crash that left my uncle seriously injured. Without any guarantee of a financial recovery, they went out and hired accident investigators and engineers to help prove how the accident happened. I am grateful that they worked on a contingency fee basis as there was no way we could have paid for these services on our own. Ethan Armstrong
This lawyer really helped me get compensation for my motorcycle accident case. I know there is no way that I could have gotten anywhere near the amount that Mr. Rosenfeld was able to get to settle my case. Thank you. Daniel Kaim
Jonathan helped my family heal and get compensation after our child was suffered a life threatening injury at daycare. He was sympathetic and in constant contact with us letting us know all he knew every step of the way. We were so blessed to find Jonathan! Giulia
Jonathan did a great job helping my family navigate through a lengthy lawsuit involving my grandmother's death in a nursing home. Through every step of the case, Jonathan kept my family informed of the progression of the case. Although our case eventually settled at a mediation, I really was impressed at how well prepared Jonathan was to take the case to trial. Lisa