Causes and Consequences of Fetal Distress

Whitney Taylor | April 23rd, 2013 | Posted in Cerebral Palsy Lawsuit News

Birth Injury DefectsFetal distress is a blanket term used to describe a number of medical situations involving the fetus. Medical personnel may have advance warning of potential complications during labor and delivery, or the signs of fetal distress can appear abruptly at some point during the delivery process. In either case, medical staff must respond promptly and appropriately to those signs to avoid injuries to the child or mother. If the staff does not respond properly, the result can be a birth injury malpractice lawsuit.

Causes of fetal distress

Fetal distress may be the result of a number of complications during labor and delivery, including:

  • Prolapse of the umbilical cord
  • Prolonged labor
  • Shoulder dystocia
  • Diabetes in mother
  • Low oxygen level in fetus (hypoxia)
  • Low blood supply in fetus (ischemia)

In some cases, the medical staff will know of the problem early on, such as when the mother is diagnosed with gestational diabetes at some point during the pregnancy. Other causes can develop rather quickly in the delivery room, such as problems with the umbilical cord or the discovery of shoulder dystocia, where the shoulder of the baby gets caught in the birth canal, usually behind the mother’s pelvic bone.

Signs of fetal distress

The signs of fetal distress may occur during labor and delivery, or even before contractions begin in earnest. Some of the symptoms and indicators of fetal distress include:

  • Vaginal bleeding or cramping
  • Reduced fetal movement during the final stage of pregnancy
  • Lower breathing rate for the fetus
  • Significant changes to the fetal heart rate

Whenever any of these signs occur, prompt attention to the situation is required. In some cases, issues may be resolved by repositioning the mother during labor, or offering additional oxygen or fluids. An examination could be in order to ensure there are no problems with the umbilical cord. Some situations require immediate delivery of the baby, which could mean the use of forceps or vacuum suction during a vaginal delivery, or an emergency cesarean section.

If the situation is not properly handled, a serious birth injury could result. Fetal distress could lead to brain damage, bone fractures and organ failure. These injuries could result in a lifetime of disability and the need for ongoing medical care. In the most heartbreaking cases, a fetus could be stillborn or die shortly after birth, leaving a family grieving for a child they would never have the chance to raise. When birth injury malpractice is involved with such events, the situation is even more tragic.

Filing a birth injury lawsuit

When a child is injured through birth injury malpractice, the family does have legal options. A birth injury lawsuit allows parents to pursue the compensation they need to pay medical bills and make up for lost wages when they take time from work to care for their injured child.

With more than 40 years of experience, the team at Balkin & Eisbrouch know how to fight for families who have experienced the catastrophic results of malpractice in the delivery room. We can help you understand your rights and determine whether you are eligible for compensation for your child’s injuries and your emotional suffering. Call our law offices today for a free consultation.