Untoward neonatal sequelae deriving from cutting of the umbilical cord before delivery

Med Law. 2001;20(4):627-34.


Four cases are reported where, following the delivery of the fetal head, the physician electively cut the nuchal cord of the fetus. The extraction of the body entailed difficulties and the babies suffered irreversible damage in the process. Not unlike 5 previously described similar cases, these incidents came to the attention of the authors in connection with medico-legal reviews. The writers conclude that the practice of severing the umbilical cord prior to the delivery of the body of the fetus, proposed in some textbooks as a routine procedure, is a dangerous technique, which should be avoided. They also point out that the medical literature has not discussed this problem. Reviews of potential malpractice cases frequently provide important research data that cannot be elicited in the course of traditional clinical investigations.

MeSH terms

  • Birth Injuries / etiology*
  • Cerebral Palsy / etiology*
  • Dystocia / therapy*
  • Extraction, Obstetrical / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Malpractice / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Pregnancy
  • Umbilical Cord / surgery*
  • United States