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Fetal distress

Fetal distress refers to the compromise of the fetus due to an inadequate supply of oxygen or nutrients. This can occur due to maternal, fetal, or placental factors. In its most severe form, it can lead to neonatal brain injury or fetal death. Its presence can be suspected due to several factors, but all have a high false positive rate.

Fetal distress
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Risk factors:

Includes women with a history of:

  • Stillbirth.
  • Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR).
  • Oligohydramnios or polyhydramnios.
  • Multiple pregnancy.
  • Rhesus sensitisation.
  • Hypertension.
  • Obesity.
  • Smoking.
  • Diabetes and other chronic diseases.
  • Pre-eclampsia or pregnancy-induced hypertension.
  • Decreased fetal movements.
  • Recurrent antepartum haemorrhage.
  • Post-term pregnancy.

Causes of Fetal Distress:

Fetal distress may be caused by a number of factors, including:

  • Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR)
  • Preeclampsia
  • Placental abruption
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Too much amniotic fluid
  • Low levels of amniotic fluid
  • A pregnancy lasting longer than 40 weeks
  • Labor complications, including labor going too quickly or lasting too long
  • Umbilical cord prolapse, compression or entanglement
  • Staying in a position (usually flat on your back during labor) for a long period of time, which eventually puts pressure on your major blood vessels and cuts off oxygen to your baby

Signs of Fetal Distress:

You may be experiencing signs of fetal distress if you or your doctor notes that:

  • Your baby has a decreased heart rate
  • Your baby has a different (on nonexistent) pattern of fetal movement after week 28
  • Your water breaks and is greenish-brown (that’s baby’s first poop; some babies who pass this meconium while still in the uterus may be in distress)
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