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In medicine (obstetrics), fetal distress is an obstetrical complication that is the presence of signs in a pregnant woman—before or during childbirth—that the fetus is not well or is becoming excessively fatigued.
Signs and symptomsEdit
Signs and symptoms of fetal distress include:
- Decreased movement felt by the mother
- Meconium in the amniotic fluid
- Cardiotocography signs
- Biochemical signs, assessed by collecting a small sample of baby's blood from a scalp prick through the open cervix in labour
Some of these signs are more reliable predictors of actual distress than others. For example, cardiocartography can give high false positive rates, even when interpreted by highly experienced medical personnel. Acidosis is a highly reliable predictor, but is not always available. A highly effective method of assessment of distress would be to use fetal heart rate as a first indicator of distress, to be confirmed with a more reliable method of diagnosis before radical treatment is performed.
There are many causes of fetal distress:
- Breathing problems
- Abnormal position and presentation of the fetus
- Multiple births
- Shoulder dystocia
- Umbilical cord prolapse
- Nuchal cord
- Placental abruption
- Premature closure of the fetal ductus arteriosus
In many situations fetal distress will lead the obstetrician to recommend steps to urgently deliver the baby. This can be done by induction, or in more urgent cases, a caesarean section may be performed.
- Birth anoxia
- Birth trauma
- Birth Trauma Association
- Postsurgical complications
- Pre- and perinatal psychology
- Premature birth
Pathology of pregnancy, childbirth and the puerperium (O, 630-676)
|Complications of pregnancy||
|Obstetric labor complications||
Preterm birth · Postmature birth · Cephalopelvic disproportion · Dystocia (Shoulder dystocia) · Fetal distress · Vasa praevia · Uterine rupture · Hemorrhage (Postpartum) · placenta (Placenta accreta) · Umbilical cord prolapse · Amniotic fluid embolism