Signs and Symptoms Of Marginal Cord Insertion

Did your doctor miss the signs and symptoms of marginal cord insertion while you were pregnant? If so, does your child have birth defects such as breathing difficulty, heart defects, or cerebral palsy? Or worse, was your child stillborn? If so, you may have a medical malpractice claim against your doctor. 

Marginal cord insertion claims are complex legal actions. You will need a tough, experienced, and skilled injury attorney to help you recover damages. Our successful injury lawyers with O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble, LLC have the work ethic and dedication you need to help you maximize your financial recovery due to complications of a marginal cord insertion.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Marginal Cord Insertion?

The medical term marginal cord insertion refers to an abnormal umbilical cord connection between the mother and the child’s placenta. The umbilical cord provides life-giving nutrients and oxygen to the fetus from the mother. A fetus could have difficulty maturing if the umbilical cord does not attach normally.

Typically, the umbilical cord attaches, or inserts, in the center of the placenta. Normal insertion is the most secure for the umbilical cord, which allows for the unimpeded flow of nutrients from mother to child.

However, marginal cord insertion happens when the umbilical cord, which runs from the child’s belly button, attaches to the edge of the placenta. Doctors refer to the edge of the placenta as the margin. The margin is only 20 millimeters from the center, but this small shift can cause significant problems. 

Marginal cord insertion can slow nutrient flow to the fetus. Restricted nutrients can lead to intrauterine growth restriction. This condition can cause a low fetal heart rate when the mother enters labor. 


Doctors use several preconditions to predict the likelihood of a marginal cord insertion. One is the birth of multiple children at once. Marginal cord insertion occurs between 2% to 25% of all pregnancies. However, it is more likely to occur in multiple births rather than one child and is also more likely to happen in the mother’s first pregnancy. Doctors need to be aware of other indicators, such as the mother’s:

  • Diagnosis of chronic illnesses like diabetes;
  • Use of an intrauterine device (IUD) before becoming pregnant;
  • Use of artificial reproductive technology to help become pregnant;
  • Age, if 35 or older; and
  • Drug use.

The presence of one or more of these factors does not necessarily mean that marginal cord insertion will occur. But these are risk factors that doctors must consider.

What Tests Can Doctors Use to Look for Marginal Cord Insertion?

Doctors can detect marginal cord insertion during the pregnancy’s second trimester. Doppler ultrasound scans can help doctors determine the quality of the blood flow from mother to child through the umbilical cord. An accurate ultrasound reading indicates whether the umbilical cord insertion is natural or marginal.

Adverse Effects of Marginal Cord Insertion

Doctors must also monitor the umbilical cord’s attachment to the placenta during the third trimester. During this time, a marginal cord insertion may become a velamentous one. Although rare, velamentous cord insertions are severe and may require immediate medical attention. 

A velamentous cord insertion means the umbilical cord is not attached to the placenta at all—instead, it attaches to the membranes surrounding the placenta. When this happens, one of the issues is that the blood vessels from the umbilical cord have to travel a greater distance to obtain nutrients for the baby. Another issue is that blood vessels outside the placenta do not have the natural protection of a substance called Wharton’s jelly. Wharton’s jelly protects the umbilical cord’s blood vessels; without it, the blood vessels are at a greater risk of bursting. Broken blood vessels are a serious medical condition that requires immediate medical attention because it is potentially life-threatening.

Often, doctors who diagnose a velamentous cord insertion recommend a C-section before the planned due date or during labor for heavy bleeding. Other adverse effects of velamentous cord insertion include premature birth, placental abruption, and preeclampsia (high blood pressure). 

Babies born with a velamentous cord insertion are often significantly underweight, especially if born prematurely. Such infants usually need special care in a neonatal care unit (NICU). 

Such babies could also have low Apgar scores when born. The Apgar score ranges from zero to 10 and refers to the child’s respiration rate, heart rate, reflexes, skin color, and muscle development. A low score indicates that the child needs assistance to breathe. 

Complications from Velamentous Cord Insertion 

A medical condition called vasa previa occurs in nearly 6% of all velamentous cord insertion births. Vasa previa is when the umbilical cord attaches to membranes near the mother’s cervix. The exposed blood vessels are at an extreme risk of bursting, which results in heavy bleeding from both the mother and child. Sadly, nearly 50% of vasa previa cases end in stillbirth.

Birth Injury Lawsuit After a Marginal Cord Insertion

A C-section is the best method to avoid stillbirth in vasa previa cases. The survival rate jumps from 97% to 99% when the doctor performs a C-section. However, remember that a poor outcome does not always mean your doctor committed malpractice—but it might.

Your doctor has the duty to you and your child to order the proper testing, read the results accurately, make the correct diagnosis, and then take medically appropriate steps to prevent injury or death. A physician who fails at those tasks could have legal liability for your losses.

For example, if your doctor did not follow you closely during your second trimester despite the presence of risk factors, then your doctor might be liable for your child’s birth injuries. Similarly, your doctor could be liable if they ordered the correct tests but misinterpreted the results. 

Trust O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble, LLC, for Your Marginal Cord Insertion Birth Injury Lawsuit

Medical malpractice lawsuits are extremely complicated, and not every attorney can handle them. We can. Our award-winning lawyers have won the most significant medical malpractice verdict ever in New Jersey. Although we are incredibly proud of the result, we also take pride in our outstanding track record of success.

Contact Us

Contact us online or call us at 908-928-9200 for a free consultation. 

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