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Umbilical Cord Prolapse

Syracuse Lawyers Helping Families with Birth Injuries

The umbilical cord is a tube that connects a mother to her fetus during pregnancy. It carries nutrients and oxygen to a fetus and transports away its waste. An umbilical cord prolapse occurs when the umbilical cord drops into the vagina before or during delivery. While this doesn’t happen often, when it does, a fetus may be harmed by the lack of oxygen. If your baby was injured by a failure to diagnose or treat umbilical cord prolapse, the Syracuse birth injury attorneys at DeFrancisco & Falgiatano can provide you with a consultation to discuss your case.

What is Umbilical Cord Prolapse?

Umbilical cord prolapse can result from preterm labor, multiple gestation pregnancy, breech presentation, premature rupture of membranes, and polyhydramnios, which is excess amniotic fluid. The most common reason for umbilical cord prolapse is the early rupture of the membranes, whether naturally or artificially, such that the umbilical cord comes through the cervix along with the baby or ahead of the baby, and gets compressed by the baby’s shoulder or head. Loss of oxygen can cause birth injuries such as cerebral palsy or brain damage.

Liability for Birth Injuries Caused by Umbilical Cord Prolapse

To recover damages for a birth injury, you will need to establish your health care provider’s liability in failing to diagnose, misdiagnosing, or not treating the umbilical cord prolapse. You will need to demonstrate: (1) your health care provider owed you and the baby a professional standard of care, (2) the provider failed to meet the professional standard of care with regard to an umbilical cord prolapse, (3) the failure caused birth injuries, and (4) damages. Umbilical cord prolapse is an obstetrical emergency that requires prompt identification and intervention.  

For timely diagnosis, the obstetrician may use ultrasound imaging or a fetal doppler to reveal the placement of the umbilical cord. If the physician fails to diagnose and properly treat an umbilical cord prolapse in around 5 minutes, the baby will struggle to get sufficient oxygen and may suffer a long-term disability. Obstetricians or nurses may be able take different steps to address the prolapse and prevent harm. For instance, a provider may try to release the prolapse. Some doctors use amnioinfusion to take away pressure or order a C-section as needed.

In most birth injury cases, the plaintiff’s lawyer will retain an expert to testify about the professional standard of care for the given circumstances. Some patients have a higher risk of umbilical cord prolapse than others. Accordingly, obstetricians and nurses should develop a response plan if they believe intervention will likely be necessary, such as if a fetus is less than 36 weeks, in an abnormal position or if manipulation of the uterus is used. The professional standard of care depends on the accepted medical practices of health care providers in the same specialty and geographic area as the defendant when faced with similar circumstances. If your obstetrician failed to conduct an amnioinfusion when other Syracuse obstetricians would have performed this procedure, the physician may be liable for damages if the lack of intervention harmed the child.


Often parents are unprepared for the financial consequences of a baby’s long-term disability. If you can establish liability for the disability by a preponderance of the evidence, you may recover compensatory damages. The nature of your baby’s birth injury will dictate the type and amount of recovery.

Both tangible and intangible losses may be recovered. Tangible losses may include past and future medical care, rehabilitation and medical equipment. If a parent needs to stay home to care for a child experiencing developmental delays, it may be possible for him to recover lost wages. Intangible losses may include pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment.

Consult a Syracuse Attorney

If your baby sustained birth injuries as a result of umbilical cord prolapse, you may not have enough saved for his or her care. You should consult the seasoned lawyers of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano. We represent babies and their families in cities in Upstate New York including Rochester, Syracuse, Cooperstown, Oneida, Lyons, Auburn, Canandaigua, Binghamton, Oswego, Watertown, Wampsville, Ithaca, Elmira, Herkimer, Lowville, and Utica. Contact DeFrancisco & Falgiatano at 833-200-2000 or via our online form.

Client Reviews
"We were very impressed with how Jeff DeFrancisco represented us at trial and we were extremely happy when the jury found in our favor." D.M., Auburn, NY
"I suffered a serious injury as a result of medical malpractice. My husband and I retained Jeff DeFrancisco to assist us in this case. We were extremely happy with his representation and highly recommend him." Kelley R., Syracuse, NY
Since the insurance company was unwilling to settle the matter my case ultimately went to trial. At trial Jeff DeFrancisco did an absolutely amazing job by obtaining a very favorable result for me." T.H., Oneida, NY
"I highly recommend DeFrancisco & Falgiatano - Charlie represented me for a medical malpractice case. He is the best of the best. He is friendly and I am very happy with the representation he provided." Roger N., Oneida, NY