Fetal Distress and Cerebral Palsy

Fetal distress is a term used to describe the situation in which a fetus does not receive enough oxygen, whether during pregnancy or during the birthing process. When a fetus, or baby, suffers from a lack of oxygen (asphyxia), the results can be devastating. For this reason, medical professionals such as the doctors and nurses attending a pregnant woman, must constantly keep an eye out for signs of fetal distress, and take immediate corrective action when such symptoms are present.

Symptoms of Fetal Distress

Pregnant women may experience any of a number of symptoms associated fetal distress, including:

  • Elevated fetal heart rate – One of the most common symptoms of fetal distress is an elevated heart rate. While fetal heart rates are known to vary over time, and can range anywhere from about 110 to 160 bpm, an elevated heart rate (tachycardia) for an extended period of time could be a symptom of fetal distress.
  • Lack of normal fetal movement – Because fetal distress can have a negative health impact on your developing baby, if your baby does not move around as would be normally expected, he or she may be experiencing the symptoms of fetal distress.
  • Vaginal bleeding – Many women experience some vaginal bleeding and spotting during their pregnancies, especially during the first trimester. However, heavy bleeding or bleeding later in the pregnancy may be indicative of a serious problem, including fetal distress.

Fetal Distress Risk Factors

Various factors can lead to a fetus suffering from symptoms of fetal distress. Some of the more common causes of fetal distress include:

  • Vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC)
  • Prolonged labor
  • Infection
  • Sepsis
  • Umbilical cord issues, such as nuchal cord
  • Mother’s pre-existing medical conditions
  • Uterine rupture
  • Abnormal fetal positioning in the uterus
  • Maternal hypoxia

Fetal Distress and Cerebral Palsy

The long-term prognosis for a baby who is born after having suffered fetal distress depends on the severity of the condition and its causes. While many cases of fetal distress are corrected and result in no long term damage to the baby, some cases may result in the baby suffering permanent injury.

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a disorder which often results from a brain injury before, during, or shortly after birth. Cerebral palsy can affect a person’s posture, movement, speech, and other coordinated bodily movements, and to cope with CP some people require extensive care for their entire lives

Many medical experts believe that fetal distress can cause cerebral palsy. For example, cerebral palsy can be caused by asphyxia, which is the primary cause of fetal distress.

Compensation for Cerebral Palsy Resulting from Medical Negligence

If your child suffers from cerebral palsy, and you believe that a medical error or medical malpractice may have played a role, you may be entitled to significant compensation from those whose negligence resulted in your child’s injury. Contact a birth injury attorney today to discuss your situation, and learn your legal options.  

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