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Pediatr Dev Pathol. 2001 Mar-Apr;4(2):144-53.

Morbidity, mortality, and placental pathology in excessively long umbilical cords: retrospective study.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, New York Presbyterian Hospital-Weill Medical College of Cornell University, NY 10021, USA.


The purpose of this study was to compare specific fetal, maternal, and placental factors, including neonatal morbidity and mortality, in infants with umbilical cords (UCs) of normal length to the same factors in infants with excessively long umbilical cords (ELUCs). We performed an 18-year retrospective chart review of the medical records of mothers and infants with ELUCs (926 cases) and normal-length UCs (200 cases) and recorded maternal factors, fetal factors, and neonatal outcomes. Corresponding placental pathologic reports and slides were reviewed. Statistical analysis comparing the two groups included univariate and multivariate analyses. ELUCs were significantly associated with certain maternal factors (systemic diseases, delivery complications, increased maternal age), fetal factors (non-reassuring fetal status, respiratory distress, vertex presentation, cord entanglement, fetal anomalies, male sex, increased birth weight), gross placental features (increased placental weight, right-twisted cords, markedly twisted cords, true knots, congestion), and microscopic placental features (nucleated red blood cells, chorangiosis, vascular thrombi, vascular cushions, meconium, increased syncytial knots, single umbilical artery). Some of these histopathologic features have previously been associated with fetal hypoxia and/or altered blood flow in the placenta. Infants with ELUCs were found to be at a significantly increased risk of brain imaging abnormalities and/or abnormal neurological follow-up. In addition, mothers with a history of an ELUC are at increased risk of a second long cord.

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