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What is fetal distress?

If your child is in distress during delivery or when you're carrying him or her in the womb, it's important that a doctor or medical team takes your concerns seriously and helps your baby. Not doing so in an efficient manner could result in birth injuries that could last a lifetime. If that happens, you can speak with an attorney about claiming compensation for a doctor's negligence, but that won't reverse the damage to your child.

What is fetal distress?

Normally, it means that the fetus is not receiving an appropriate amount of oxygen during pregnancy. Sometimes, the only way to detect this problem is by checking the baby's heart rate and finding that it's abnormal.

Fetal distress may also be confused with a condition called birth asphyxia. Birth asphyxia happens to a baby either before, during or after labor, and it is caused by low oxygen levels in the mother's blood or possibly because of damage to or the compression of the umbilical cord. Or course, there are also other causes.

These terms don't mean the same thing, though, and they shouldn't be confused. Fetal distress can be caused by any reason that the baby is distressed; that doesn't necessarily mean that it's a lack of oxygen reaching the child.

What are some signs that fetal distress could occur?

There are a few symptoms that may appear that signify the need for close monitoring of an unborn child. Anemia, post-term pregnancies, meconium-stained amniotic fluid, and pregnancy induced hypertension are all potential signs that a baby could later be in fetal distress.

Source: American Pregnancy Association, "Fetal Distress: Diagnosis, Conditions & Treatment," accessed Jan. 11, 2016

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