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David Mittleman
David Mittleman
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Umbilical Cord Accidents; How They Affect Families

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This issue is very personal to me.  In 1990 my wife and I experienced a full-term stillborn birth due to an umbilical cord wrapped around our daughter’s neck.  We saw her move and watched her heart beat right up to and during the beginning of labor.  A recent study by Jason H. Collins and published in the National Institute of Medicine suggests a procedure for reducing the risk of death or serious brain damage in babies.  The issue is umbilical cord accidents, which range from cords becoming knotted or compressed to cords wrapping around the baby’s body or neck to blood vessel ruptures.  According to the Stillbirth Collaborative Research Network, 10% of stillbirths are caused by these incidents, and more babies than that live but suffer brain damage.  Fortunately for us, we have 2 happy, healthy, and wonderful young adult children.

Screening For Umbilical Cord Accidents

The study found that a screening procedure, if performed by doctors at the appropriate time, could prevent thousands of stillbirths worldwide.  This procedure would be an evaluation with sonography to examine the location and quality of the umbilical cord, allowing the doctor to determine if there are any issues that can be corrected.  Fetal body movements also give indication of umbilical cord problems, so observing fetal behavior through 24 hour periods with ultrasound would be invaluable for diagnosing and preventing umbilical cord problems.  The NIH recommends other tests in a full screening as well to ensure protection from umbilical cord accidents, and a healthy birth and baby.  Doctors and hospitals have taken steps to improve the quality of care during labor and delivery in attempts to decrease newborn neonatal asphyxia and hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, which can cause permanent brain damage, immeasurable suffering, and lifelong impairment.

Compensation May Be Available

Recently the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) revised litigation criteria under which OB/GYN doctors may be liable for negligent care resulting in baby brain damage.  Umbilical cord accidents are now considered a significant cause of death or serious brain injury.  If you or a family member had a stillbirth or a newborn with brain problems caused by an umbilical cord accident, you may be entitled to compensation.  While the mother and family may do everything right, a mistake by a doctor or a hospital to not appropriately diagnose and act upon an umbilical cord accident can cause the death of a child or lifelong effects for which the doctor or hospital should be held responsible and accountable.  Medical malpractice litigation, especially in Michigan, can be very complicated.  An attorney can assist you in evaluating whether you may have a claim.