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Fetal distress is a serious risk for an unborn baby

Fetal distress is a serious condition that obstetricians and other medical professionals must be cognizant of when they are treating a pregnant woman for any medical condition. When the fetus is in distress, there is a chance that irreparable damage can occur. If that damage does happen, parents might choose to seek compensation for medical malpractice.

Fetal distress and birth asphyxia seem to go hand-in-hand with one another. Fetal distress is sometimes used to mean birth asphyxia; however, they are actually different issues. Fetal distress occurs when the fetus isn't handling the conditions in the amniotic sac well, and it is also known as non-reassuring fetal status. Birth asphyxia occurs when the fetus isn't getting adequate oxygen.

There are some instances in why fetal distress can lead to birth asphyxia. If the mother has a uterine infection that is affecting the fetus, fetal distress might occur. If the woman's water breaks and the baby drops onto the umbilical cord, birth asphyxia might occur if the oxygenated blood flowing through the umbilical cord is cut off.

One of the methods for determining how the fetus is handling labor is to place the fetus on a heart rate monitor. The fetal heart rate monitor would show if there is an issue with the fetus' heart. Generally, a fetus that has signs of distress would need to be delivered quickly, which can mean a Cesarean delivery.

Failing to deliver a fetus that is showing signs of distress can lead to brain damage or death of the baby. This is a devastating outcome for the family members who have looked forward to the arrival of a new bundle of joy.

Source: American Pregnancy Assocation, "Fetal Distress," accessed July 07, 2016

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