WHAT IS FETAL DISTRESS?

During pregnancy, doctors and nurses must be on the lookout for any problems that can affect the health and well-being of the baby.  These problems will often manifest themselves by detectable symptoms.  Ignoring those symptoms can cause future problems for the baby, including cerebral palsy and developmental delays.

Fetal Distress Defined and Demonstrated

Fetal DistressDoctors and experts disagree over the exact definition of terms like fetal stress and fetal distress.  Like many things in medicine, those terms evolve with technology, new discoveries and changing practices.  In general, fetal distress occurs when the baby’s environment becomes dangerous.

In most cases, fetal distress is indicated by problems with the baby’s heart rate.  This is detectable using continuous electronic fetal monitoring, which monitors the heart rate and the mother’s contractions.

Lack of movement in the womb is also a possible symptom of fetal distress.  When lack of movement is a possible sign of distress, doctors will try to stimulate the baby by placing the mother on her left side, giving her orange juice and IV fluids, or even providing her with an oxygen mask.  If those measures are not effective, doctors must be prepared to intervene.

Causes of Fetal Distress

There are any number of causes of fetal distress, including shoulder dystocia, umbilical cord prolapse [LINK: ], placental abruption, and uterine rupture.  In each case, the baby may experience lack of oxygen or blood to the brain.  Without oxygen and blood, the baby cannot develop appropriately, and may experience permanent brain damage.

How to Deal with Fetal Distress

Doctors must be prepared to remove the cause of fetal distress, and must be prepared to do it quickly to prevent brain damage to the baby.  In some cases, like shoulder dystocia, the baby will need to be delivered quickly, usually requiring specific maneuvers to dislodge the shoulder.  In other cases, like placental abruption, it may be necessary to perform an emergency cesarean delivery.  After delivery, depending on the length and severity of the distress, the baby may need to be resuscitated, and may spend time in the neonatal intensive recovery unit (NICU).

Contact Us

If your child has cerebral palsy, developmental delays, or any other birth injuries, contact our medical malpractice attorneys at (855) 712-7818 or online for a free consultation.  Our team of lawyers and experts can help you determine whether those injuries were caused by the negligence of your medical providers.

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