Fetal Acidosis

Fetal acidosis is a medical term that refers to high levels of toxicity in an unborn baby’s blood.

Warning Signs

Fetal acidosis can be caused by a number of factors. While in the uterus, the baby depends entirely upon the mother for oxygen and nutrients, which are received via the umbilical cord. This means that if the mother is in distress the baby is likely in distress as well. Prior to delivery, signs and symptoms of possible fetal acidosis include prolonged, intensely painful, or stressful labor, combined with low oxygen levels. The best indicator of fetal distress due to fetal acidosis is an abnormal heart rate in the fetus. The mother might also notice decreased fetal movement. After delivery, an infant may experience fetal acidosis due to continued respiratory distress, infection, or anemia.

Diagnosis & Care

It is essential that healthcare professionals closely monitor both the mother and the baby prior to, during, and after delivery. A quick response from medical providers reduces the chances of serious injury to the baby. An abnormal heart rate, decreased fetal movement, and passing of the baby’s first stool all indicate the possibility of fetal acidosis. Fetal acidosis can also be diagnosed by collecting a small sample of fetal blood from a scalp prick during labor. If the fetal blood shows elevated lactate levels, the baby likely has acidosis.

Expenses

If left untreated for a significant amount of time, an infant suffering from fetal acidosis can suffer severe and permanent neurological injury resulting in life-long disabilities. Generally, disabilities associated with fetal acidosis do not shorten life expectancy, but require significant medical, rehabilitative, and nursing care. The costs associated with life-long medical care and round the clock monitoring can be exorbitant. Fetal acidosis is largely preventable when mother and baby are closely monitored by medical personnel. If you suspect negligence or carelessness in the birth of your child, you may be eligible for compensation. Contact the medical malpractice lawyer’s at the Law Offices of Wais, Vogelstein, Forman & Offutt to have an attorney evaluate your fetal acidosis claim.

Treatment Centers

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, fetal heart rate monitoring can help the physician identify and interpret changes that might be caused by acidosis. If an abnormal fetal heart rate is detected, it can usually be corrected by giving the mother oxygen and increasing her intravenous fluids. If these measures are not effective, the baby will need to be delivered as quickly as possible. Once fetal distress has been identified, any delay in delivery can lead to brain damage or death.

Books & Resources

For more information on fetal acidosis, the following resources are available:

  • National Center For Biotechnology
  • Health Reviews: Fetal Distress
  • Management of High Risk Pregnancy (4th ed.) by John T. Queenan – Part IV. Monitoring: Biochemical and Biophysical
  • Fetal Heart Rate Monitoring (3rd ed.) by Roger K. Freeman, Thomas J. Garite, & Michael P. Nageotte – Chapter 8. Fetal Acid-Base Monitoring
  • Manual of Obstetrics (7th ed.) by Arthur T. Evans – Part IV. Chapter 32. Fetal Monitoring and Testing
  • Causes and Consequences of Fetal Acidosis (Journal: Archives of Disease in Childhood: Fetal & Neonatal Edition) by Catherine S. Bobrow &Peter W. Soothill
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