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J Fam Pract. 1992 Apr;34(4):441-5.

Outcome of infants born with nuchal cords.

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  • 1Family Practice Service, Reynolds Army Community Hospital, Fort Sill, OK.



The effect of a nuchal cord on the outcome of delivery is controversial. The purposes of this study were to investigate the frequency of nuchal cords and determine the effect that nuchal cords have on the neonate.


In a retrospective, case-control study, 706 consecutive infant deliveries in a community hospital were evaluated. Sixteen deliveries that were complicated by the umbilical cord entangled around an extremity or by a prolapsed cord were excluded from further analysis. The study group consisted of the 167 deliveries (23.7%) complicated by a nuchal cord. The remaining 523 deliveries were used as the control group.


There were no significant differences found in maternal age, race, parity, prepregnancy weight, or amount of weight gain between the mothers of the infants in the two groups. Fetal bradycardia and variable decelerations in fetal heart rate occurred almost twice as often in the nuchal cord group (18.6% as compared with 9.6%, P less than .01). Despite this finding, there was no significant difference in the number of operative deliveries or in Apgar scores at 1 and 5 minutes between the two groups. There were no perinatal deaths associated with nuchal cords. Infants born with nuchal cords weighed less than those in the control group (3345 g compared with 3468 g, P less than .01). There were also significantly fewer large-for-gestational-age and macrosomic infants born in the nuchal cord group. Complications such as jaundice, hypoglycemia, sepsis, and respiratory problems were not increased in the postnatal period because of a nuchal cord.


This study suggests that nuchal cords are common and are rarely associated with significant morbidity or mortality in neonates.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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