Fetal Heart Rate Decelerations (Decels)

During labor and delivery, the heart rate of a fetus should remain steady but, with the application of force during contractions, may decelrate from the baseline rate.  A "normal" baseline fetal heart rate usually falls between 120 and 160 beats per minute.

There are three categories of decelerations:
  • Early Decelerations:
20 to 30 BPM drops below baseline that occur at the same time as a contraction.  They are not usually a cause for concern.
  • Late Decelerations:
Dips in fetal heart rate that occur as the end of a contraction, usually because of low oxygen (which causes the fetus to slow its heart rate to save energy).  Late decelerations may mean that a fetus is tired and has a dwindling reserve.  If late decelerations cannot be corrected (e.g., changing maternal position), they may be a sign of fetal distress.
  • Variable Decelerations:
Dips in fetal heart rate that are variable in onset, duration and severity.  They may occur with a contraction or between a contraction.  They may be brief or severe.  Usually, they come and go quickly.  Generally, they are a sign of umbilical cord compression and may be associated with overshoot (a briefly high heart rate to compensate for hypoxia).

The trial lawyers at Bottar Leone, PLLC, have decades of experience investigating, prosecuting and trying to verdict medical malpractice and birth injury cases.  If you or your baby have been injured due to medical malpractice, you, your child and your family may be entitled to compensation for lifelong health care, medical expenses, special education, medical bills, loss of income, and pain and suffering. 

To discuss your case or concerns with an experienced Central New York medical malpractice and birth injury attorney, contact us now at (315) 422-3466, (800) 336-LAWS, or by e-mail at info@bottarleone.com.