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Umbilical cord prolapse: what to know about it

Umbilical cord prolapse is a rare condition that expectant mothers in Texas should learn about. It arises during labor when the umbilical cord enters the birth canal with or before the baby. This can give rise to an even more serious condition where the umbilical cord is compressed.

Umbilical cord compression occurs in 1 out of 10 pregnancies. While it can occur before labor when the baby starts to move vigorously, it usually occurs during labor and tends to be only a mild concern. In serious cases, though, it will reduce oxygen and blood flow to the baby. This leads to changes in heart rate and blood pressure.

Variable deceleration refers to the sudden decrease in the baby's heart rate. The heart rate falls below 115 bpm and remains so for more than 15 seconds but less than 10 minutes. Umbilical cord compression also causes CO2 to build up in the baby's blood. When the lungs cannot remove enough of that CO2, it leads to respiratory acidosis.

The longer the umbilical cord is compressed, the greater the risk for fetal hypoxia and, with it, brain damage or even death. When the compression is severe, doctors can perform a C-section to ensure the baby's health. In minor cases, the usual treatment is to increase the mother's oxygen.

If babies incur birth injuries and the parents believe that the doctors involved failed to live up to an objective standard of care, there may be grounds for a medical malpractice claim. To properly evaluate a claim, a lawyer may request an inquiry with the local medical board and hire experts to measure the extent of the injuries. A successful claim might cover future expenses if the baby is left with a permanent disability.

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