Hear rate failure baby

Fetal Heart Rate Mistakes: Protecting Your Baby from Lifelong Disabilities

Fetal Harm? Monitor Risks. Fight Back.

During labor and delivery, one of the most important things doctors and midwives do is monitor the baby’s heart rate. A baby’s heartbeat can tell medical professionals a lot about how they’re doing. Changes in heart rate might be the first signs that a baby is in distress and needs immediate help. Unfortunately, sometimes medical teams fail to monitor a baby’s heart rate properly or miss crucial signs of trouble. This can have devastating, lifelong consequences for the baby.

In this article, we’ll dive into the world of fetal heart rate monitoring and explore the following:

  • What is fetal heart rate monitoring?
  • Why do mistakes happen in fetal monitoring?
  • Types of birth injuries linked to monitoring failures
  • What legal rights families may have
  • How to make a claim if you believe your child was injured

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What is Fetal Heart Rate monitoring and why is it important?

Doctors use fetal heart rate monitoring throughout pregnancy, labor, and delivery to track a baby’s health. There are two main ways to do this:

External Monitoring:

This involves placing two soft belts with sensors around the mother’s abdomen. One sensor tracks the baby’s heart rate while the other measures contractions.

Internal Monitoring:

This involves placing a small electrode on the baby’s scalp after the mother’s water has broken. This provides a more continuous and accurate reading of the baby’s heart rate.

Medical professionals are trained to look for patterns and changes in the baby’s heart rate that might signal distress. Things like a sudden drop in heart rate or abnormal variability could mean the baby isn’t getting enough oxygen or is experiencing other complications.

Why do failures in fetal heart rate monitoring happen?

Sadly, there are a number of reasons why things might go wrong when monitoring a baby’s heart rate:

  • Human error: Nurses, midwives, and doctors may misread the heart rate tracing or fail to recognize warning signs.
  • Equipment malfunction: Monitoring equipment might not work properly, or sensors may become displaced.
  • Communication breakdowns: The medical team may not communicate effectively with each other, leading to delays in recognizing and responding to problems.
  • Overly busy labor wards: Overly busy wards can lead to nurses and midwives being stretched too thinly, affecting their ability to monitor patients closely.

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What kinds of birth injuries can happen due to inadequate fetal monitoring?

When a baby’s fetal heart rate isn’t adequately monitored or concerning signs are missed, it can delay urgent action leading to severe consequences, including:

  • Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE):  is a type of brain damage resulting from a lack of oxygen and blood flow to the brain. This can lead to disabilities like cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and learning difficulties.
  • Cerebral palsy: Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders that affect movement and posture, often stemming from brain damage before, during, or shortly after birth.
  • Developmental delays: A baby might experience delays in reaching milestones like sitting up, crawling, or speaking.
  • Seizures: Seizures can sometimes occur as a result of a brain injury.
  • Death: In the most tragic cases, a failure to monitor and act on fetal distress can result in stillbirth or death shortly after birth.

What legal options do families have?

If you believe that your baby suffered a birth injury because of medical failings, including inadequate fetal heart rate monitoring, you may have the right to pursue a medical negligence claim. In the UK, families can seek compensation to help cover costs like:

  • Medical treatment and rehabilitation
  • Special education
  • Adaptations to your home
  • Loss of earnings (for parents having to care for their child)

To have a legal case, you will typically need to prove:

  • Breach of duty: The medical professionals caring for you and your baby failed to meet the expected standard of care.
  • Causation: This failure to meet standards directly caused your child’s injury.
  • Damages: Your child suffered injuries as a result.

Making a Medical Negligence Claim with National Claims

We understand that navigating the legal system after a birth injury can be incredibly daunting and overwhelming. At National Claims, our experienced medical negligence solicitors are here to guide you through the claims process step-by-step.

Here’s how we can help:

  • Free initial consultation: We’ll listen carefully to your story, offering an honest assessment of your case and the chances of success.
  • Gathering evidence: Our team will work with you and medical experts to build a strong case, investigating the circumstances of your child’s birth and securing medical records.
  • No-win, no-fee agreements: Many of our cases are handled on a no-win, no-fee basis. This means you don’t pay anything upfront, and you’ll only pay legal fees if we successfully win your case.

We know no amount of money can fully undo the harm done, but we strongly believe that families who’ve suffered due to medical mistakes deserve justice and the means to rebuild their lives.


Failure to adequately monitor fetal heart rate can have heartbreaking consequences. It’s important for parents to be aware of the risks and to advocate for themselves and their baby during childbirth. If your child has been the victim of a birth injury due to poor fetal monitoring, we urge you to seek legal advice. You may not fully realize the extent of the support your child will need in the years to come. Securing compensation can help alleviate the financial burden and ensure your child has access to the best possible care.

Contact us today to speak to one of our claims specialists who will be able to help you get started on your claim.

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