Is fetal distress dangerous? This is a question that we get from some parents when they are doing research into their baby’s birth injury. I took the liberty to narrow the question down into a more manageable format. With that said, the point is whether fetal distress can cause serious issues for a baby and if so, what can be done regarding the condition.


If you are reading and have no real understanding of fetal distress, this article should give you a basic understanding of the condition. In addition, you will have a better understanding of the issues from a medial legal standpoint.




Before getting into my discussion regarding fetal distress, I would like to share with you what some mothers tell me about their journey leading up to when they reach out to a birth injury attorney. For a lot of mothers, it is the memories of what was happening in the labor and delivery room…the little things. I have had some mothers explain to me that as labor and delivery progresses, they notice more “concern” from the nurses. Or, in other cases, nurses moving in and out of the room, paying little attention as to what is happening with mom and baby.


Sometimes the actions mentioned above will be notably present in the labor and delivery room, and in other cases they will not. Regardless, the actions of the doctors and nurses play an important role in the review and analysis of these cases. As a matter of fact, the standard of care looks at the actions of the medical professionals and determines whether there was a departure from the standard, causing the injury or harm.




In the context of this article, fetal distress is defined as a baby no longer tolerating a vaginal delivery. There can be multiple reasons for the cause of fetal distress. For example, if the umbilical cord is compressed, this can lead to a baby not getting enough blood and oxygen. When this occurs, there is always a risk of the baby not only suffering a catastrophic brain injury, but death can occur if the oxygen deprivation goes on for too long.


Doctors and nurses can gauge fetal well-being using the electronic fetal heart monitor. This device is used in hospitals all throughout America. It is connected to the mother’s stomach and relays information on a printout, or computer screen. Some of the information collected is the baby’s heart rate, acceleration and deceleration patterns, variability, and contractions, among other things.


When doctors and nurses fail to properly interpret the monitor in during times in which the baby is no longer tolerating a vaginal delivery, injury to the baby can occur. For example, the baby can be dealing with bradycardia, and late decelerations, with the doctors and nurses not taking the appropriate actions during a continuation of these readings for a considerable amount of time. A failure to remedy this situation can lead to a baby’s fetal reserves running out and the baby suffering a brain injury, in some cases.




Is fetal distress dangerous? The short answer is that it can be dangerous under the right circumstances. When a baby is no longer tolerating a vaginal delivery, it is imperative that doctors and nurses play close attention to mother and baby because a birth injury can occur.


To speak with me further this is what I invite you to do. Pick up the phone and give me a call at 301-850-4832. I talk with families all the time about birth trauma related injuries and I would 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.