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Monitoring fetal heart rate key to avoiding birth injuries

Texas women who go into labor have a lot on their minds. They are, of course, thinking about the pain they are experiencing and how to minimize it. However, they are also thinking about the safety and well being of their soon-to-be born child. Medical professionals, too, should be concerned about this and take the necessary steps to ensure everything is done to monitor a child's health during labor.

One way doctors do this is by monitoring the fetal heart rate, usually by periodically listening to the baby's heartbeat or by continuously recording it through electronic fetal monitoring. The purpose of monitoring a baby's heartbeat is to alert medical professionals of any potential risks of issues arising during labor. Although an abnormal heart rate is not indicative of a problem, it should raise a red flag for medical personnel and initiate an investigation into finding its cause.

One of the more serious reasons for an abnormal fetal heart rate is oxygen deprivation. If a fetus is deprived of oxygen, then the cause of the problem must be found right away, as any significant period of oxygen deprivation may cause serious birth injuries, such as cerebral palsy and other brain-related injuries. In the worst cases, oxygen deprivation leads to death.

If fetal monitoring identifies a serious health issue, then a doctor more than likely should proceed with a cesarean birth, or utilize forceps or vacuum extraction to get the baby out as quickly and safely as possible. Unfortunately, though, sometimes fetal monitoring is conducted improperly or not at all, allowing major health issues to go unnoticed.

When this happens and a baby is harmed, a family can suffer extensive damages in the form of physical, emotional and financial losses. When this happens, it might be wise to seek assistance from a qualified medical malpractice attorney who may be able to help pursue a legal claim for compensation.

Source: The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, "Fetal Heart Rate Monitoring During Labor," Lisa Fields, accessed on Jan. 15, 2017

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