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Nuchal Cord

By Julie S. Moldenhauer, MD, Associate Professor of Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology in Surgery, The Garbose Family Special Delivery Unit, The Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia; Attending Physician, The University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine

A nuchal cord is an umbilical cord that is wrapped around the fetus’s neck.

A nuchal cord occurs in about one fourth of deliveries. Normally, the baby is not harmed.

Before birth, a nuchal cord can sometimes be detected by ultrasonography, but no action is required. Doctors routinely check for it as they deliver the baby. If they feel it, they can slip the cord over the baby’s head. Sometimes if the cord is tightly wrapped, it is clamped and cut before the shoulders are delivered.