Fetal Distress

Fetal distress occurs when a baby’s blood supply is reduced (ischemia) or when the amount of oxygen in the blood decreases (hypoxia) during delivery. This places the mother at risk, and her child may be in danger of a debilitating birth injury, such as brain damage or even death.

Conditions for fetal distress

Several conditions can place a child at risk of fetal distress. Mothers with high blood pressure or diabetes, or who have experienced an infection during pregnancy, may be at risk for delivering a child in fetal distress.

Other conditions which occur during delivery, including a placental abruption (the separation of the placenta from the uterine wall) or a uterine rupture (the wall of the uterus is partially or fully breached), may also cause a child to go into fetal distress.

Careful monitoring needed

One of the most important factors in prevention of a birth injury due to fetal distress is the doctor’s careful monitoring of the delivery process. The doctor performing the delivery should monitor the baby’s condition to make sure that its heart rate and other vital signs are good and that the delivery is proceeding normally.

In cases where a mother has a difficult labor, induced labor or is post-term, careful monitoring is especially important because babies born to these women are at an increased risk of fetal distress.

Warning signs that a baby may be in danger of going into fetal distress include a slow or irregular heartbeat, or other heart abnormalities. When a baby is born in fetal distress and suffers a birth injury due to medical malpractice, its parents need to know their options.

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