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Pregnancy Problems

During pregnancy, your health is number one priority. That’s why we went straight to top pregnancy health experts for all the details you want to know about the most common pregnancy problems. In our pregnancy problems guide, you can read about a slew of pregnancy conditions – everything from hemorrhoids to gestational diabetes. Find out what any pregnancy symptom could possibly mean (are you swollen just because you’re expecting, or is it a sign of some complication?) and find out whether or not it’s worth a call to your OB. If you already know you’ve got a pregnancy complication or health condition, our comprehensive articles will give you the scoop on its causes and how it can affect you and baby. Plus, get treatment tips straight from medical experts and pregnant women like you. Yup, we've got answers to all your questions about pregnancy health problems right here!

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Two-Vessel Cord

Found out there are only two blood vessels in baby’s umbilical cord? Here’s what exactly it means for you and baby throughout your pregnancy.

What is a two-vessel umbilical cord?

Most babies’ umbilical cords have three blood vessels: one vein, which brings nutrients from the placenta to baby, and two arteries that bring waste back to the placenta. But a two-vessel cord has just one vein and one artery -- that's why the condition is also referred to as having a single umbilical artery.

What are the signs of a two-vessel umbilical cord?

There usually aren’t any before it’s diagnosed.

Are there any tests for a two-vessel umbilical cord?

Yes. During your midpregnancy ultrasound, the doctor will check to see whether there are three vessels in the umbilical cord.

How common is a two-vessel umbilical cord?

It’s much more common than you probably think it is -- it happens in about 1 to 1.5 percent of all pregnancies.

How did I get a two-vessel umbilical cord?

We wish we had answers, but there’s no known cause of a two-vessel cord.

How will my two-vessel umbilical cord affect my baby?

In most cases, it won’t: The one artery just makes up for what the missing one would do. However, there’s a slight increase in risk of growth problems and a minimal increase in risk of stillbirth.

You should also be aware that baby’s kidneys and heart develop at the same time as the umbilical cord does, so there’s also a slight increase in risk of abnormalities to those organs. Your doctor will look closely at the kidneys and heart and may have a specialist give baby an echocardiogram in the late second trimester to be sure everything’s okay.

There used to be a belief that a two-vessel cord signaled an increased risk of chromosomal abnormalities like Down syndrome, but that’s actually not true -- those would be more likely to be signaled by other symptoms, and your doc would look at other factors to diagnose something like that. Most of the time, baby’s perfectly healthy.

See Next Page for treatments, prevention and more advice.

-- Brian Iriye, MD, ob-gyn and member of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine

 

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