Background: Spontaneous umbilical cord hematoma is a rare life-threatening gestational accident.
Case report: A 26 year-old primipara was examined at 38 weeks of gestation for fetal monitoring. There were a number of fetal decelerations with loss of baseline variability. Cesarean section performed for acute fetal distress resulted in a male infant with an Apgar score of 3 at 1 minute and 7 at 5 minutes and neonatal anemia (Hb: 11.6 g/l). Four umbilical cord hematomas were observed. Microscopic examination revealed a ruptured umbilical vein without other abnormality. Post natal evolution was marked by hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy and death.
Conclusion: Spontaneous umbilical cord hematoma is rare (1/5,500 births) and often due to rupture of the umbilical vein. Risk factors are shortness or traction of the cord, post-maturity and infection. Umbilical cord hematomas are usually responsible for severe fetal distress or death.