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What Is Fetal Distress?

Mellino Law Firm

Fetal distress occurs when a baby becomes unwell or experiences problems inside the mother’s uterus. This can happen during pregnancy or during labor. In many cases, fetus distress is caused by lack of oxygen, which could be the result of a prolapsed umbilical cord or other causes. It can also occur due to problems with the placenta, an unusually lengthy or prolonged labor, and other factors.

If a doctor failed to respond to fetal distress in a timely manner, and your baby suffered a serious and debilitating injury, contact our Cleveland office for a free consultation. .

Indicators of Fetal Distress

Numerous signs indicate fetus distress. These can be recognized through careful monitoring of the baby’s heart rate and behavior during labor.

Some possible symptoms include:

  • decreased movement or the baby stops moving altogether;
  • the baby’s heart rate significantly decreases or increases;
  • meconium (feces) is found in the amniotic fluid when the mother’s water breaks; and
  • vaginal bleeding, which could indicate an issue with the placenta.

If a doctor sees any of these warning flags, he or she should determine the cause of the symptoms, treat the symptoms if necessary, alleviate the baby’s stress, and/or deliver the baby.

Responding to Fetal Distress

The proper response to fetal distress symptoms can vary. For example, meconium may not be a major concern if the pregnancy is post-term. On the other hand, some symptoms tell the doctor that he or she should induce labor or perform an emergency C-section. The doctor may also need to give the mother oxygen or increase fluid intake via an IV drip.

If a doctor neglects or fails to take appropriate measures in signs of fetal distress, he or she may be held liable for life-threatening injuries to both mother and baby.

What Are Risks of Fetal Distress?

Some factors that increase the risk of fetus distress include:

  • the mother suffers from diabetes;
  • the mother is overweight or obese;
  • the baby is very small;
  • the pregnancy is past term;
  • the mother has high blood pressure;
  • the pregnancy involves twins or multiples; and/or
  • the mother is age 35 or older.

A doctor should always discuss these risks with a pregnant woman and discuss the possibility of fetal distress or other complications.

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