Fetal Heart Rate Observation and Baby’s Health

Fetal Heart Patterns

Examining heart rate patterns of fetuses before birth may not guide doctors to make birth decisions as it was previously thought to do, according to a recent study.

In the past, doctors would observe heart rate patterns of the fetus they were preparing to deliver. The normality of the rates would guide them in their decision to perform a vaginal birth or a Cesarean section. However, these observations may not be as good an indicator of the fetus’s health as was previously believed, according to the research done by maternal-fetal medicine specialists at Intermountain Medical Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Researchers Looked at Heart Rates

Researchers looked at fetal heart rates in more than 48,000 labors and deliveries at 10 Intermountain Healthcare hospitals over 28 months. The majority of the babies had heartbeats that were classified as category II – indeterminate and their significance uncertain. This means that most heart rates taken do not exactly tell a doctor or nurse what is needed, causing them to make an educated guess.

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