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Can a Baby Get Tangled in the Umbilical Cord? | MBM Justice
February 5, 2021

What Happens When the Umbilical Cord Is Wrapped Around a Baby’s Neck?

The umbilical cord is your baby’s lifeline. Throughout your pregnancy, it supplies vital nutrients, blood, and oxygen to the baby. Sometimes the baby’s umbilical cord can get wrapped around its neck during the later stages of pregnancy or during labor and delivery.

This phenomenon is called a nuchal cord, and it is surprisingly common. Estimates from the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology suggest that nuchal cords occur in as many as 20 percent of all deliveries

The majority of the time, a nuchal cord poses no threat to the baby. However, sometimes the umbilical cord may restrict oxygen to the fetus (particularly if the cord is looped around the baby’s neck multiple times). If your child suffered oxygen deprivation as a result of mismanagement of the warning signs caused by a nuchal cord, it is important to speak to a birth injury lawyer as soon as possible.

Anoxia vs Hypoxia

Umbilical cord entanglement is one of the reasons a baby may experience a decrease in oxygen supply to its brain during labor. If doctors or nurses are not vigilant when monitoring the mother and baby, they can miss the signs of birth asphyxia in the baby.

Both complete loss of oxygen (anoxia) and decreased oxygen (hypoxia) can cause significant brain damage or even stillbirth.


Anoxia is the complete absence of oxygen. When an umbilical cord is knotted, kinked, or tangled around the baby’s neck, it can result in a complete loss of oxygen. This can significantly compromise organs, muscles, and brain tissue, resulting in permanent brain damage and even death.


Hypoxia is a term for low oxygen levels. When the umbilical cord is kinked or tangled, the baby may receive oxygen at lower levels.

Low levels of oxygen can also cause brain damage. Babies who experienced hypoxia during labor and delivery may suffer from cerebral palsy throughout life.

What Is the Treatment If the Umbilical Cord Wraps Around a Baby’s Neck?

Intervention is generally not required in the event of a nuchal cord. Your medical team should monitor the baby’s vital signs to ensure he or she is getting sufficient blood and oxygen through the umbilical cord.

Should complications arise, a cesarean section or an expedited vaginal delivery may be necessary to avoid prolonged compression of the umbilical cord. However, the vast majority of babies with nuchal cords should be able to be delivered vaginally without incident.

Getting the Help You Need after an Umbilical Cord Injury

When your baby suffers serious injury after a traumatic birth, you may be left wondering what went wrong. How could this happen? When this occurs, it is important to speak to an experienced and compassionate Providence birth injury lawyer immediately.

If your doctor or medical professional acted negligently during the labor and delivery process, you may be able to file a medical malpractice claim to recover the compensation you need to properly care for your child – both now and in the future. If your child died as a result of errors in the delivery room, you may be entitled to compensation through a wrongful death claim against one or more medical practitioners.

Birth injury claims are complex, and it is difficult to calculate the full extent of your current and future losses. It is in your best interest to contact a birth injury attorney as soon as possible to begin investigating how medical negligence may have resulted in mismanagement of an umbilical cord that became wrapped around your child’s neck.

Contact Our Providence Birth Injury Lawyers Today

If your baby suffered serious brain damage or medical harm as a result of negligence during the labor and delivery process, it is important to speak to an experienced and skilled Providence birth injury law firm. Without an attorney on your side, it can be difficult to obtain the money you will need to give your child the care they need moving forward. While no amount of compensation can offset the loss of the future you wanted for your child, you and your family should not have to struggle with extreme financial burdens during this time.

Mandell, Boisclair & Mandell, Ltd has been representing families in complex birth injury claims for more than 40 years. We have an unsurpassed knowledge of the medicine in these cases, and our attorneys have achieved significant trial awards and settlements on behalf of clients whose children were seriously harmed or died due to the malpractice of a doctor, nurse, or other healthcare professionals.

For a FREE consultation, please call Mandell, Boisclair & Mandell, Ltd at (401) 273-8330 today. Our birth injury lawyers serve clients in Providence and throughout Rhode Island.