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Umbilical Cord Complications & Abnormalities Claims
If your baby has been affected by an umbilical cord complication that you believe could have been avoided or better handled by the attending midwives or obstetricians, you may be eligible to make a claim for compensation. At JMW, we have the experience and expertise to ensure you have the best possible chance of getting the outcome you deserve.
For expert legal advice from the team at JMW call us on 0800 054 6512 or complete our online enquiry form and we will get back to you as soon as we can. Our understanding and sympathetic solicitors can provide all of the legal guidance you need at what can be a very difficult time.
Complications and abnormalities of the umbilical cord can sometimes occur during labour. They can result in foetal distress or other serious birth injuries due to the importance of the cord to the child. Sadly, serious complications can even lead to the death of the baby.
Examples of umbilical cord complications include:
- Umbilical prolapse - This is when the cord slips into the vagina before the baby passes into the birth canal, potentially decreasing its blood and oxygen supply
- Umbilical cord compression - This can occur should the cord wrap around the baby's body or neck during delivery, thus decreasing blood flow and oxygen supply
- Umbilical cord knot - This is when knots form in the cord, which usually happens due to the cord being too long. This can result in the baby's oxygen supply being cut off
These abnormalities can lead to problems during pregnancy or labour, as well as serious brain injuries and heart defects in the baby. It can also lead to death if the baby is deprived of oxygen for too long.
Connecting a baby in the womb to its mother, the umbilical cord is typically around 50 cm long and runs from the placenta in the womb to the baby's stomach.
The role of the umbilical cord is to transport oxygen and nutrients from the placenta to the baby's bloodstream. Following the birth of the baby, the umbilical cord will be clamped at each end before being cut, which will leave a small stump on the baby's tummy that, when healed, will form into a belly button.
You may be able to make a clinical negligence claim if your baby experienced an umbilical cord complication before or during labour that was:
- Not dealt with correctly
- Made worse by the attending medical professionals
Prolapse of Umbilical Cord, £1.3 million Compensation
With JMW's help a man has received compensation of £1.3 million and periodical payments of £120,000 a year after negligence during his delivery as a baby resulted in him suffering serious health consequences.
Unstable position of baby in uterus
Almost two weeks before his expected date of delivery (EDD), the mother of the baby - named Connor - was admitted to hospital. The position of Connor in his mother’s uterus was unstable and there was a risk of cord prolapse (the umbilical cord descending before the baby).
One day before the EDD, Connor’s mother went into labour. Connor was positioned across his mother’s abdomen (oblique or transverse) instead of head down (cephalic).
A junior doctor came to examine Connor’s mother as she was having contractions every five minutes. However, when the doctor performed a vaginal examination, the cervix was 3cm dilated, with the membranes intact. The doctor contacted the Consultant (more senior doctor) by telephone and advised that Connor be pushed straight and the membranes be ruptured.
Umbilical cord prolapse
The junior doctor attempted to perform an external version (repositioning of the baby) and ruptured the membranes. The umbilical cord prolapsed to the right of Connor’s head and descended with it.
The junior doctor tried to push the baby’s head back up and preserve the blood supply to the baby. He also spoke to the Consultant on the telephone who arranged to come in for a possible Ventouse delivery or caesarean section. However, it took 40 minutes from the time of the cord prolapse and the time when Connor’s mother was taken into theatre for an emergency C-section.
When Connor was born, his Apgar scores (the scores that indicate the health of a newborn baby) were very low. He was admitted to the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) and later transferred to a specialist children’s hospital. He suffered profound birth asphyxia and developed athetoid cerebral palsy.
Failure to make management plans for delivery
It was alleged that, having decided to admit Connor’s mother at the outset because of the risk of labour and the possibility of cord prolapse, that it was negligent not to make any proper management plans for the delivery.
If an experienced obstetrician had devised a management plan for the delivery, an elective caesarean section would have been advised. In that event, neither cord prolapse nor any brain injury would have occurred.
In the alternative, it was alleged that if a stabilising induction and artificial rupture of membranes was appropriate, proper preparations for delivery by caesarean section would have been made. In that scenario, it was alleged that had prolapse occurred, Connor would have been delivered by caesarean section well before any injury to his brain.
Consequences of negligence
Connor now suffers from involuntary movements affecting his arms and legs and cannot stand and walk. Nor can he use his arms effectively in many circumstances. However, Connor is very bright and he is able to control an electric wheelchair, the keys of a computer keyboard and an environmental control system.
The hospital admitted that the actions of the doctors were negligent. During the course of the legal action, various offers were made that culminated in an offer of £5 million. As Connor preferred a periodical payment scheme, the hospital made an alternative offer in the form of a £1.3m sum, together with periodical payments of £120,000 each year.
Connor has since been able to attend University to study for a degree.
The specialist negligence solicitors here at JMW have a long history of recovering compensation for parents who have suffered as a result of the mistakes of a medical professional.
We also understand how difficult it is for parents to consider embarking on what can be a lengthy legal process following a complication at birth. However, our solicitors are friendly, approachable and sympathetic, offering easy-to-understand information and advice throughout, making the course of action as hassle-free as possible.
Headed by leading solicitor Eddie Jones, our clinical negligence team is one of the most highly regarded in the UK and we are here to guide you throughout the process, offering support at every step. Our team consists of members of both the Law Society's specialist panel for clinical negligence and the Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA) solicitor panel.