Tests Doctors Perform To Assist In The Baby’s Wellbeing
For many parents, discovering that a baby is on the way creates joy and happiness. During the journey over the next several months, doctors and nurses will assist the family in ensuring that the baby enters the world as heathy as ever. To do this, doctors will not only perform physical examinations, but will use certain tests to monitor the baby’s wellbeing.
Some parents are familiar with the use of the electronic fetal heart monitor, which is used to monitor the baby’s heart rate and mother’s contracts during labor and delivery. However, there are other tests that doctors will perform along the way which are also helpful in determining the overall health of the baby. Some of the things these tests will measure are:
Fetal Heart Rate
Certain tests will be triggered depending on the issues that mother presents to the doctor. In addition, certain tests are given at different stages of the pregnancy. Below are some of the more common tests which are given to mothers during pregnancy. Please remember that these are but some of the more common tests.
Tests To Help Uncover Fetal Oxygen Reduction And Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy
When a baby presents with a reduced level of oxygen, certain things can show up in testing. For example, a reduced level of oxygen can cause a baby’s movements to decrease drastically. Some mothers may notice that their baby is no longer moving around as it did in the past. Certain tests like the non-stress test may confirm mother’s concerns.
During labor and delivery, the electronic fetal heart monitor can also detect things which can alert doctors that a baby is no longer dealing well with a vaginal delivery. When a baby is struggling with oxygen related issues, the heart beat will decrease. Like on the electronic fetal heart monitor, a non-stress test may reveal decelerations of the heartbeat. If the decelerations continue and outpace the fetal reserves (a mechanism the baby develops to deal with the stresses of delivery), permanent injury to the brain can occur. As a matter of fact, the term hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy essentially means a reduction in blood and oxygen which leads to a brain injury.
Amniotic Fluid Index Test
The amniotic fluid index test is one in which an estimate is made of the amount of amniotic fluid present. Amniotic fluid is the fluid which surrounds and protects the baby. It is important in providing the baby with nutrients, water, and other chemicals that the baby needs to survive. Through the amniotic fluid, the transfer of these important nutrients happens between mother and baby.
Doctors use ultrasound to perform the amniotic fluid index test. The index can be scored as low as 1 and all the way to 24. The index will vary depending on when the test is done. However, for a near term baby, the index will generally be around 8-18. A reading of 5-7 is considered borderline and below 5 is low, or abnormal.
A low, or abnormal amniotic fluid index test can be the result of many factors. Below are some of the reasons why an amniotic fluid index score can read low, or abnormal:
A Rupture Or Leaking Of Membranes: A tear in the membranes can cause a leak of amniotic fluid. The leak can be slow or a gushing release of the fluid.
Maternal Complications: Certain complications such as preeclampsia, diabetes, hypertension, and dehydration can lead to a low amniotic fluid index reading.
Placental Problems: The placenta has issues providing enough nutrients to the baby.
Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy
Umbilical Cord Compression
A non-stress test is a test that measures the baby’s heart rate as it moves over time. The test gets its name from the fact that the baby is not placed under stress at the time of testing. Doctors can perform the non-stress test in pregnancies over 28 weeks. For many mothers however, the test will be done in the later part of 30 weeks, up to week 42.
To perform the test, doctors will have mother reclining or lying down. The test is done with the use of sensors around the abdomen. A machine will then record the readings. Doctors are looking for reassuring readings in the form of accelerations (increases in the fetal heart rate) in the readings over a 20-minute time frame. There should be at least 2 accelerations over this time. If over a 40-minute time span, not enough accelerations occur, the reading can move to nonreactive. If the baby is not asleep during this time oxygen related concerns can arise. Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy is a threat when a reduced level of oxygen is present.
Doctors may perform a non-stress test for the following reasons:
Post Term Pregnancy
Baby Is Not Moving As Much As It Did Previously
Baby Has Been Diagnosed With A Birth Abnormality
Amniocentesis: A test which can be done to check if there is a uterine infection such as chorioamnionitis and/or whether the baby’s lungs are developed enough to delivery.
An ultrasound is a test that can be used to test for birth defects and other abnormalities. In addition, ultrasound can be used to determine the growth of your baby. Also, it can determine whether there are multiple babies in the pregnancy. Ultrasound is a common test given during pregnancy and can inform the parents of fetal wellbeing. On the other hand, an ultrasound can alert parent to problems which their baby may be facing. Doctors can advise parents as to what to expect from ultrasound results.
Prenatal Testing Errors Which Lead To A Birth Injury
A mother who presents to a doctor pregnant depends on the doctor to take the right action(s) regarding her pregnancy. Failure to do so can have catastrophic consequences for not only mother in some cases, but for also the baby. The standard of care will require doctors to pay attention to things such as whether mother is a high-risk pregnancy. A mother who is at high risk may trigger testing and monitoring which is not needed for a mother who is not high risk.
Therefore, problems such as the lack of oxygen and fetal distress must be guarded against when mothers present with certain issues. A failure to perform certain tests in light of situations which demand the test(s) be given, or to interpret the results incorrectly can give rise to possible departures from the standard of care. If these departures then lead to injury in mother and/or baby, then possible medical malpractice may lie.
Boston Law Group, LLC represents victims of birth injury and medical malpractice throughout Maryland. We can help victims in:
Prince George’s County
Anne Arundel County
St. Mary’s County
The failure to administer or interpret tests during pregnancy and during delivery can lead to a birth injury. Do you suspect this is what happened to your child?
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