Compensation Claims for Umbilical Cord Strangulation at Birth

Before describing the process for making compensation claims for umbilical cord strangulation at birth, it is important to dispel a “popular” misconception about umbilical cord birth injuries. This is that when the umbilical cord is wrapped around a baby´s throat it will deprive the brain of oxygen and the baby will die or suffer a serious injury.

A baby cannot be strangled or choked by the umbilical cord because the baby is not breathing air in the womb. In fact it is the umbilical cord that is delivering oxygen to the baby´s brain and only a severe and long-lasting compression of the umbilical cord will cause your baby any harm. When a baby is delivered with the umbilical cord around its throat, the cord is untangled before being cut so that there is no risk of injury when the baby starts breathing independently.

The reason for this misconception is that approximately one-in-three babies are born with the umbilical cord wrapped around their throats. Consequently one-third of babies that have suffered oxygen deprivation in the womb are also born with the umbilical cord around their throats. Even though the babies born with brain damage are not yet breathing independently, the term “umbilical cord strangulation” has developed to describe the cause of their condition.

The True Causes of Umbilical Cord Birth Injuries

There are three main causes of umbilical cord birth injuries – twisted cords, knotted cords and prolapsed cords. In the case of twisted and knotted cords, these present little risk of injury while the baby is in the womb because the twists and knots are fairly loose and the cord itself is cushioned by a protective matrix known as “Wharton´s Jelly”. Effectively the umbilical cord can cope with a few knots here and there.

The risk of injury comes when the baby is being delivered and the umbilical cord prolapses, or the twists and knots in the umbilical cord tighten and the flow of oxygen-carrying blood is obstructed. However the likelihood of these circumstances occurring should be detected earlier in the pregnancy, and regular foetal monitoring during the delivery process should prevent these injuries from occurring.

When there is a failure to detect the risk of umbilical cord birth injuries, or a failure to conduct regular foetal monitoring during the birth of your child – and your child suffers an injury as a result – it should be possible to claim compensation for medical negligence. If you child is injured during the delivery process, and emerges with the umbilical cord wrapped around its throat, we would understand why you may be considering “compensation claims for umbilical cord strangulation at birth”.

Establishing Negligence in Compensation Claims for Umbilical Cord Strangulation at Birth

In order to successfully make compensation claims for umbilical cord strangulation at birth, it has to be shown that your child´s injury was avoidable “at the time and in the circumstances” and attributable to medical negligence – usually defined as any act or omission by a medical professional that deviates from the accepted standard of care in the healthcare community.

In the case of umbilical cord birth injuries, “at the time” could relate to any time during your pregnancy when the risk of an injury due to a twisted, knotted or unusually long umbilical cord should have been identified in a scan. The failure to monitor the foetal heartrate – particularly after labour-inducing drugs have been administered – also constitutes medical negligence.

As there is no viable defence against either of these scenarios and, once causation has been established, your solicitor should be able to negotiate a settlement of compensation for umbilical cord birth injuries without your claim being contested. The settlement of compensation claims for umbilical cord strangulation at birth depends on the level of injury sustained by your child and the implications of the injury for the rest of their lives.

Get Legal Advice about Birth Injuries due to Medical Negligence

Although proving medical negligence in compensation claims for umbilical cord strangulation at birth is not as complicated as in some other birth injury claims, you should not hesitate to get legal advice about birth injuries due to medical negligence at the first possible opportunity.

We have established a Medical Negligence Advice Bureau which you are invited to call to discuss compensation claims for umbilical cord strangulation at birth with a medical negligence solicitor. The solicitor may not be able to advise you immediately whether your child is eligible for compensation for umbilical cord birth injuries, but will be able to answer any questions you may have about making compensation claims for umbilical cord strangulation at birth.

There is no charge for using our service and you will not be under any obligation to make a claim for umbilical cord birth injuries once you have spoken with us. You can call our Medical Negligence Advice Bureau at any time for discrete legal advice about birth injuries due to medical negligence that will help you better understand the process of making compensation claims for umbilical cord strangulation at birth.