Can Fetal Distress Have Long-term Side Effects?

Fetal distress is a term used to describe complications during labor and delivery. Generally, it refers to an unborn baby who is not receiving enough oxygen. Because oxygen deprivation, or birth asphyxia, can result in devastating consequences, including cerebral palsy, medical professionals have a duty to identify signs of distress and respond appropriately. Failing to identify fetal distress, delays in treatment or intervention, or failures to take action, such as a C-section can lead to permanent brain damage, long-term effects, or the death of a fetus.

During birth, medical staff must closely monitor mothers and babies in order to identify possible complications. This is done through close evaluation of fetal heart rate monitors. Some minimal diminution of oxygen is normal as a baby progresses through the birth canal, and no long-term motor or intellectual impairment will result. However, prolonged and severe distress is a red flag requires intervention and treatment in order to avoid preventable birth injuries and serious long-term consequences.

When fetal heart rate monitors indicate non-reassuring results, medical staff must take a number of steps to address the problem, including administering oxygen to the mother, turning the mother onto her side, performing evaluations to identify potential complications, or performing emergency C-sections, among others. It becomes their responsibility to properly identify complications reasonable medical professionals would identify under similar circumstances, and to treat them appropriately. When they do not, the risks for long-term injury substantially increases.

Proven Record in Fetal Distress Birth Injury Cases

At Beam Legal Team, our birth injury attorneys have handled many cases involving medical professionals who failed in some capacity to identify and / or appropriately respond to fetal distress during labor and delivery. As many of our case results show, these failures often result in serious long-term side effects. For example:

  • We secured a $15 million settlement in a case where the hospital failed to recognize fetal distress signs during a two-day Pitocin induction of a young mother. As a result, they failed to perform a C-section and overdosed Pitocin to the point that it caused excessive contractions. The child in this case suffered severe brain damage, and is unable to talk, walk, or care for herself.
  • In a case that was settled for $11 million, attending nurses and doctors confused the mother’s heartrate for the baby’s when monitoring a fetal heart rate monitor. This led to their failure to recognize significant fetal distress and the baby suffering brain damage, cerebral palsy, and the need for lifetime 24/7 nursing care.
  • Our firm secured a $6.875 million settlement in a Michigan birth injury case where a child suffered brain damage after medical staff failed to detect fetal distress and failed to perform an emergency C-section hours before. The lack of oxygen resulted in a diagnosis of spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy, the most severe case of CP, seizure complications, microcephaly, and developmental delays.

As our cases and many others like it make clear, fetal distress is certainly cause for long-term health consequences, especially when medical professionals are negligent in identifying and responding to complications. Often, these errors prove devastating to children and their families, and commonly result in life-altering challenges, emotional injuries, and the need for lifelong care and specialized accommodations.

If you and your loved ones believe treating medical staff failed to appropriately detect and respond to fetal distress during birth, you may be entitled to financial compensation for resulting preventable birth injuries and long-term consequences. To determine if you may have grounds for a lawsuit and how our award-winning legal team can protect your rights, contact us for a FREE consultation.

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