Single Artery Umbilical Cord

Archived Q&A and Reviews

January 2003

During her first ultrasound at Kaiser, my daughter-in-law was diagnosed with having a single umbilical artery instead of the usual two arteries. This condition is also called a two vessel cord. We were talked to by a genetic counselor who stated the (low) odds of other anamolies appearing and took family histories. The doctor also took extra blood and the tests came out showing very few markers for birth defects. No amnio is planned at this time. They will be monitoring closely for any fetal distress in the third trimester. Many of these babies are delivered early. There is still a risk factor present and I'd like to ask anyone out there to contribute their own experience with this situation. I've checked the internet and the U.S. info is mostly scientific and concerned with associated defects, while a few UK parents who have had the same complication have written that their kids are just fine. Thank you in advance. Concerned Gran

My girl had a 2-vessel cord, as well. It didn't turn out to cause any problems during the pregnancy nor in her; she's perfect! I understand that in very rare cases there can be some neurological problems, but there is nothing that can be detected in pre-natal tests, only after the child is born. But in my research and in asking our doctor, found that the chances of that were extremely slim. Try not to worry needlessly! Ellen
For what's it worth, I have a dear friend on the east coast who delivered a healthy baby for whom there was a single artery umbilical cord. The child is now 18 months old. She has been healthy from the time of birth. Shoshana
I wouldn't worry too much. My daughter also had a single artery umbilical cord and we were very nervous about it throughout my pregnancy but she is absolutely fine (15 months). Just be diligent about the extra tests (for peace of mind mostly!). I had several ultrasounds and a specific test of the heart (echo something or other, via ultrasound) at about 8 months (they had to wait for the heart to develop enough). I did have an amnio but that was due to my age more than the umbilical cord. A few weeks after she was born they tested her kidneys (apparently they can also be affected - frankly I'm glad I didn't know that during pregnancy!).

And by the way, my daughter was 2 weeks late, plenty of fluid, no degrading of the placenta. Tough labor but I don't think that had anything to do with the umbilical cord! And she made it through with no real stress (I had to quickly move my position once when the bells went off but that was it). The cord was around her neck when she came out but the doctor handled it just fine and we had no worries. Apgars were fine.

Our doctor had seen the one artery cord several times before and said none of the babies were adversely affected so I think it's really a VERY small risk. I would just make sure she feels confortable with and confident in her doctor (ours was fabulous but she's on the other side of the bay) and gets the extra testing they recommend. Then enjoy your perfect little grandchild! Kristie