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Can fetal distress lead to birth injuries?

In last week's blog post, we discussed meconium aspiration syndrome. As noted in that post, there are several conditions that can lead to that condition. One of those conditions is fetal distress during pregnancy; however, meconium aspiration syndrome isn't the only condition that can be caused when a fetus is distressed. Our readers in Kentucky might like to learn a little bit about fetal distress and how it affects the baby.

What is fetal distress?

Fetal distress occurs when the baby isn't getting enough oxygen. It can occur at any point during pregnancy but is commonly associated with labor. When a baby is in distress, the baby's heart rate drops. The baby might also pass a stool in the uterus, which is what can lead to meconium aspiration syndrome. In some cases, fetal distress results in diminished movement or changes in the movement of the baby. Fetal distress can be caused by an infection, fetal positioning, placental abruption, maternal illness, umbilical cord compression or other similar factors.

How is fetal distress treated?

Fetal distress is usually treated by taking the mother to the operating room for a Cesarean section. There are some instances, however, in which a vaginal birth might be attempted. One such case might be when the mother is in the process of delivering the baby, but even then, failure to do a C-section might be the wrong choice. If the baby is determined to be in distress, the mother might be given oxygen or given extra fluids in an effort to help stabilize the baby.

Why is fetal distress an issue?

Fetal distress can lead to several problems that can affect the baby at birth and long after. For this reason, proper management of fetal distress is vital. When a baby suffers because of the response to fetal distress, the parents might opt to seek compensation to help offset the costs of ongoing medical care for the baby.

Source: What to Expect, "Fetal Distress During Pregnancy" Oct. 05, 2014

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