What is fetal distress? This is a question that was recently asked of me from a mother who was doing her research into the challenges that her baby would face, going into the future. The doctors told her that her baby had suffered a brain injury at birth, and that there would be challenges for the child into the future.


The purpose of this Maryland birth injury educational article is to help you get an understanding of fetal distress from a medical/legal prospective. In addition, a point will be made in helping you understand some of the important areas of analysis by a Maryland birth injury attorney.




In the context of this article, and supporting video, fetal distress is a baby who is no longer tolerating a vaginal delivery. Fetal distress untreated, can have devastating effects on a baby. Fetal distress can be harmful to a baby is due to the lack of blood and oxygen getting to the baby. A reduced level of blood and oxygen can lead to fetal asphyxia, or hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). HIE is essentially a reduced level of blood and oxygen, leading to a brain injury.


If doctors do not take appropriate actions regarding fetal distress, namely timely diagnosis and treatment (emergency C-section when warranted), the baby can use up their fetal reserves and suffer a brain injury, and in some instances a cerebral palsy diagnosis. Below I discuss the tools that doctors use to help determine whether a baby is in fetal distress.




An important tool used in a vaginal delivery is the electronic fetal heart monitor. The fetal heart monitor follows the baby’s heart rate, among other things. A normal heart beat range for a baby is around 120-160 beats per minute. The monitor also looks at things like late decelerations and variability.


Injury to the baby can occur when doctors fail to properly interpret the readings of the fetal heart monitor. A failure to correctly interpret the monitor can then lead to a failure to properly treat fetal distress, thus leading in some cases to a brain injury?




Understanding what is fetal distress can help parents get a better understanding as to what may have played a role in their baby’s brain injury. For many parents, when their child is given a cerebral palsy diagnosis, questions abound.


If you have questions regarding your baby’s injury at birth, this is what I invite you to do. Pick up the phone and give me a call. I can be reached at 301-850-4832. I answer Maryland birth injury and medical malpractice questions just like yours all the time and I will be happy to listen to your story.


Marcus B. Boston, Esq.

Boston Law Group, LLC

2 Wisconsin Circle, Suite 700

Chevy Chase, Maryland 20815



1-833-4 BABY HELP


Marcus Boston is a Maryland medical malpractice attorney who helps people navigate the Maryland childbirth injury and medical malpractice process to get money for their injuries caused by the carelessness of doctors and hospitals. BLG handles cases in Prince George’s County, Baltimore City, Montgomery County, Howard County, Anne Arundel County, and all other Maryland Counties. blgesq.com