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What Does Irregular Fetal Heartbeat Mean?

During pregnancy, there must be a number of tests done to ensure the baby and mother are safe. Unfortunately, there are certain problems that can come up during testing, such as an irregular fetal heartbeat. A concerned expecting parent may not know what an irregular heartbeat could mean and what problems may arise from it. There are three main types of fetal arrhythmias that may be detected, and it’s important to know what they mean and what can be done to help the baby during pregnancy.

The Types of Irregular Heartbeats

The three main types of arrhythmia are as follows:

  • Bradyarrhythmia is when the fetal heart rate goes slower than normal.
  • Tachyarrhythmia is when the fetal heart rate goes faster than normal.
  • Ectopic rhythm is when the heart rate sounds as though it is skipping beats or there are extra beats.

Typically, the heart rate of a fetus is supposed to sit anywhere between 120 and 160 beats per minute. While it is rare, irregular heartbeat does occur. Many times, something simple causes arrhythmia, such as the pregnant mother’s caffeine intake. However, arrhythmia should always be treated seriously.

Other Causes of Irregular Fetal Heartbeat

While some cases of fetal arrhythmia can be attributed to the actions of the mother, there are some cases in which the condition may be the result of a more serious issue, such as structural problems within the baby’s heart.

An irregular fetal heartbeat can occur in certain situations during pregnancy, such as when the baby is positioned in a certain way, when there are complications due to the mother’s amount of body fat, when there is too much amniotic fluid, or when the baby is distressed.

While there are many natural causes of irregular heartbeat—and many of them may not be life-threatening—it’s still important for your doctor to monitor the situation and determine if something needs to be done to help the baby.

What Are the Implications of an Irregular Fetal Heartbeat?

An abnormal fetal heartbeat could be an indicator of a serious problem with a baby’s health. For example, it can be a sign of oxygen deprivation (neonatal asphyxia), a lack of oxygen in the fetus’s or baby’s blood (hypoxia), or a lack of oxygen flow to the brain (ischemia). These issues are serious because they can result in the baby’s death or severe birth injuries and issues, such as:

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Learning disabilities
  • Developmental delays

Such issues and even death can be prevented if the doctor provides enough oxygen to the mother, performs an emergency Cesarean section, or acts appropriately in another way. If the doctor fails to act appropriately or fails to detect the irregular heartbeat in the first place, the fetus or baby may be harmed or killed.

What Should I Do If My Doctor Failed to Address My Baby’s Irregular Heartbeat?

It can be vital for a doctor to detect a fetus’s or baby’s irregular heart rate during pregnancy or delivery. Some doctors use devices that continually monitor babies’ heart rates, but these devices can fail or the doctors can still fail to detect, interpret, or respond to an issue. If a device fails to work or a doctor fails to act in an appropriate way, the medical facility may be liable for any issues that occur as a result.

If you believe the medical facility you went to is liable for your baby’s harm or death, you can consult a lawyer from our firm. We can work to hold the facility accountable and collect damages.

In a medical malpractice or wrongful death claim or lawsuit, you can seek damages for your child’s pain and suffering and any medical expenses you have. Your lawyer will help you decide which kind of action to file and which damages to claim.

About Our Birth Injury and Medical Malpractice Law Firm

At our firm, our attorneys represent vulnerable people in our community, including medical patients and babies. We’ve dedicated our professional lives to making sure these people’s rights are protected, including their right to live healthily and happily. If your baby isn’t able to live their best life as a result of a doctor’s negligence, we want to help you recover damages so you can get your child the treatment they need. 

Our clients appreciate how hard we fight for them, and now we want to fight for your family. Since we work on a contingency basis, you won’t pay us anything unless we secure a payout for you.

Contact Us for a Birth Injury Lawyer

At Brown & Barron, our Baltimore birth injury lawyers understand the importance of monitoring the mother’s and baby’s health during pregnancy. If a doctor failed to identify a problem and your baby suffered significant harm as a result, know that you have rights. Our team is here to help protect them.

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