Segmental Thinning Of Umbilical Cord: Causes And Treatment

Segmental thinning of the umbilical cord is known to develop when a section of the cord becomes thin because of an insufficiency of the protective layer which surrounds the blood vessel. Usually, the thinning occurs only on a segment of the umbilical cord and not along the whole length. Thus, the condition is known as segmental thinning.

The blood vessels present within the umbilical cord are wrapped up in Wharton’s jelly, which encapsulates the cord, supports it and shields it from damage.

The placenta connects the developing fetus to the mother via the umbilical cord. The placenta supplies oxygen and nutrients to the fetus from the mother’s blood and eliminates wastes from the fetal body. There are 2 umbilical arteries and 1 umbilical vein in the umbilical cord, and these proffer a link between fetal and maternal blood circulation.

By and large, what has been observed is that the thinning of umbilical cord commonly involves the umbilical vein. The condition needs suitable treatment to ward off complications.

 Causes Of Segmental Thinning Of Umbilical Cord

Segmental thinning of the umbilical cord is seen in 1.5 % of all pregnancies. It could develop in pregnant women of all ages. No ethnic, racial, or geographical tendency has been observed.

Research and clinical studies are being carried out to recognize the significant risk factors for the condition. It is vital to understand that if one has a risk factor, it does not necessarily signify that she will develop the condition. At the same time, not having a risk factor does not imply that one will not get the condition. You need to confer with your OB/GYN to understand the disorder better.

The precise cause of segmental thinning of the umbilical cord is not yet known. Studies are being conducted to discover important etiological factors.

The thinning of the umbilical cord is not triggered by what the pregnant woman does or does not do, before conceiving or during pregnancy.

Effects Of Segmental Thinning Of Umbilical Cord

  • When the umbilical cord is thin, there will be reduced flow of blood to the fetus and this consequently causes fetal distress.
  • Unwarranted bleeding will occur at delivery.
  • At the point where the umbilical cord is weak, compression of the blood vessels tends to occur more easily.
  • A reduced flow of blood to the developing fetus can be very dangerous and can cause intrauterine growth retardation and other congenital anomalies in the developing fetus.
  • An important complication is fetal malformation.
  • Compression of the blood vessels is responsible for fetal distress.
  • Miscarriage and spontaneous abortion are common.
  • Stillbirths are seen in such cases as well due to a rupture of the blood vessels during early labor.

Treatment For Segmental Thinning Of Umbilical Cord

  • There is no specific treatment for the condition. The treatment plan comprises of managing the fetal complications which have been linked to the condition.
  • It is crucial that you go to your OB/GYN for periodic and regular follow-ups and visits; also, it is very essential that you carry out all the scans and investigations as advised by the doctor. If the segmental thinning has been identified during a prenatal scan, then the baby may be delivered in case the gestational age has been reached.
  • It is very vital that you have periodic monitoring of your pregnancy, given that; segmental thinning of the umbilical cord is considered a high risk condition.