Fetal Heart Rate Accelerations (Accels)
During labor and delivery, the heart rate of a fetus should remain steady but, with the application of force during contractions, may accelerate from the baseline rate. A "normal" baseline fetal heart rate usually falls between 120 and 160 beats per minute.
A 10-15 BPM acceleration from baseline, usually seen on tracings created by a fetal heart rate monitor, is not usually a cause for concern. In fact, it may be evidence of beat-to-beat or long-term variability and can be reassuring as to fetal well-being. However, if the heart rate rises to and remains between 150 and 170 beats per minute (or above), there may be trouble. A heart rate in this range for an extended period of time is known as fetal tachycardia. There are several potential causes of fetal tachycardia, including:
Increased heart rate to circulate more blood to receive more oxygen.
Increased heart rate due to medication, e.g., terbutaline.
Increased heart rate due to underdeveloped fetal central nervous system.
Increased heart rate due to mother's production of epinephrine.
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