Fetal Bradycardia (labor and delivery)

Fetal bradycardia occurs when there is evidence of sustained depression of the fetal heart rate (below 100 beats per minute) for a period of five minutes or longer as demonstrated on Fetal Heart Tracings. This condition is generally associated with hypoxia and/or placental insufficiency.

What Causes Fetal Bradycardia?

This condition usually occurs as a result of fetal distress. One major cause of fetal bradycardia is medication given to the mother during labor. Hypotension (low blood pressure) in the mother can also result in a low fetal heart rate. Another contributing factor could a compressed umbilical cord.

How is Fetal Bradycardia Treated?

If the baby’s umbilical cord is compressed and fetal bradycardia becomes severe, an emergency cesarean section may be needed. The fetal heart monitor can effectively detect cardiac deviations and should be closely monitored after fetal bradycardia has been recognized.

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