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Umbilical Cord Gas

Bereston Law Offices

The umbilical cord carries oxygen and nutrients to the baby from the mom by way of the placenta. The umbilical cord also carries waste products from the baby to the placenta and then to mom to get rid of though her lungs and kidneys.

The umbilical cord has three blood vessels inside it. The largest vessel is a vein which carries oxygenated blood and nutrients TO the baby from the placenta which is attached to the wall of mom’s uterus. The other two vessels are smaller. These vessels are arteries that carry carbon dioxide and metabolic waste FROM the baby to the mom. These waste products are then excreted by mom mostly through her lungs and kidneys.

Umbilical cord gases are drawn by a healthcare provider from the umbilical cord after the baby is born. Two samples are taken—one from the artery and one from the vein.

The umbilical artery sample of blood reports on the status of the baby close to the time of birth. The venous sample reports on the placental function and mom’s status close to the time of birth.

The blood samples report the acid-base balance. The acid-base balance is important for cells in the body to function properly. Slight deviations can be tolerated for short periods of time but chronic imbalances can lead to problems in essential body functions.

If the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide is impaired, acid will build up and the baby will become acidotic. If a baby has had an event in which the baby did not get enough oxygen, either acutely or chronically, the umbilical artery blood sample may show a build up of acid which is noted as acidosis if the acid buildup is in the tissues of the body or acidemic.

pH is a scale that is used to determine acidity. A cord pH less than 7.1 is considered acidemic and may be evidence that your baby was not well oxygenated at or near birth. 7.1- 14 is alkaline, which is also known as base. The human body is slightly base with a pH between 7.35-7.45.

Checking the umbilical artery blood is especially helpful if there is reason to believe that there was an acute or chronic loss of oxygen to the baby. Acidemia may be present in the results if the loss of oxygen caused an anoxic (no oxygen) or hypoxic (not enough oxygen) event. Anoxia or hypoxia can cause hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (brain damage due to lack of oxygen and limited blood flow) leading to cerebral palsy (disorder that affects body movement and posture).

If you believe your baby may have suffered from lack of oxygen during the labor and delivery process, call the Bereston Law Offices for a free consultation.
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Mother kissing her baby's feet