Our focus in today’s post is decoding your baby’s heart rate in labor and delivery. One does not have to be a medical doctor, or even a birth injury attorney, to understand the importance of the heart in a human. In the context of a baby who has suffered an HIE brain injury, the heart rate is something that must be reviewed when families are looking for answers as to how their baby suffered this injury.


Please remember that with this discussion we are viewing these issues from a medical/legal position. As a result, many of these issues will be extremely fact specific.


Decoding Your Baby’s Heart Rate In Labor And Delivery


A device called the electronic fetal heart monitor can be used to detect the baby’s heart rate. Almost all hospitals in the United States use electronic fetal monitoring to track a baby’s heart rate. Home births might not have access to this type of monitoring.


During labor and delivery medical professionals want to see the baby’s heart rate stay in the normal range for the most part. Depending on the literature, a normal fetal heart rate will range between 110 beats per minute to 160 beats per minute. If the baby’s heart rate stays pretty much in this area this is good. There may be sometimes in which the heart rate moves above or below these ranges, but if it immediately heads back to the normal range things are probably good (assuming good variability and no late decelerations).


If the heart rate moves to less than 110 beats per minute, then this is called fetal bradycardia. Fetal bradycardia that is temporary is usually harmless. The longer the heart rate stays in the bradycardia range the more danger the baby is exposed to.


There can be a number of causes of bradycardia. For example, umbilical cord compression can cause a drop in the baby’s heart rate. In addition, other things which can lead to fetal distress can also in some cases cause bradycardia.


On the other hand, when the baby’s heart rate climbs above 180 beats per minute, this is called tachycardia. Like fetal bradycardia, fetal tachycardia, if left unchecked, can cause serious harm to a baby.


There can be multiple causes for fetal tachycardia. For example, if mom is dealing with a fever, this can cause tachycardia. Also, if the baby has an infection, this can cause an increase in the heart rate. As with bradycardia, oxygen related issues can come in play, leading to a brain injury in the baby.


When blood and oxygen problems are present, there is a risk of an HIE injury in the baby. This is because HIE is caused by a reduction or cut-off of oxygenated blood which can lead to a brain injury. This is why when these types of patterns are present on the fetal monitor doctors must diagnose them appropriately and treat accordingly. Failure to do so, and if this failure causes a brain injury to the baby, a strong argument can be made for medical malpractice as the reason for the brain injury. This is why decoding your baby’s heart rate in labor and delivery is crucial to your baby’s health.


Marcus B. Boston, Esq.

Boston Law Group, LLC

9701 Apollo Dr. Suite 100

Largo, Maryland 20774



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 blgesq Maryland birth injury attorneys