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What is umbilical cord prolapse?

Most of the time, childbirth is an amazing and joyous experience. However, a significant amount of birth injuries still occur in the United States. According to Birth Injury Guide, six to eight infants out of 1,000 are born with some type of birth injury. Many times these injuries occur due to pregnancy or labor complications and one of these complications involves the compression of the infant's umbilical cord. This is called umbilical cord prolapse and can be very serious.

Compression of the umbilical cord occurs about once in every 10 births. It can happen during the labor process or sometime earlier in the pregnancy and usually occurs due to pressure placed on the birth cord. In most cases, the compression occurs during the process of labor and is usually not serious.

Umbilical cord prolapse that occurs in the later stages of pregnancy can be more serious and can have a negative effect on the infant. When the cord becomes compressed during pregnancy, it can cause a marked decrease in the volume of oxygen, blood and nutrients the infant receives through the umbilical cord. Some of the dangers an umbilical cord prolapse can cause include:

-- Decreased infant heart rate and blood pressure problems

-- Infant brain damage due to the decreased oxygen and blood flow

-- Elevated carbon monoxide leading to respiratory acidosis

-- Oxygen deprivation which could cause fetal hypoxia episodes

The reason it is so important to have periodic checkups during pregnancy is to avoid birth injuries like umbilical cord prolapse. Anyone who engaged in these regular checkups but still experienced a devastating birth injury might have reason to consider a personal injury lawsuit. To explore the issue further, consider speaking with a North Carolina personal injury attorney.

Source: American Pregnancy Association, "Umbilical Cord Prolapse," accessed Oct. 13, 2015

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