During labor and delivery, a device can be placed to monitor the heart rate of the fetus in what is called Electronic Fetal Monitoring (EFM). This now common practice was formerly only used only in high risk cases (Nelson et al, 2016). A rise in the use of EFM during labor was due in part to the belief that cerebral palsy (CP) was caused by a lack of oxygen during birth (CDC). It was thought that if asphyxia was discovered early during labor, cases of CP would decrease. EFM has not been shown statistically to lower the incidence of CP, but EFM remains a common practice and plays a role in the increased number of emergency caesarian sections.
Researcher Mark Evans and his colleagues decided to take a closer look at EFM and CP, by comparing an algorithm system developed by the authors called the 8-point fetal reserve index (FRI) against the currently used American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) systems that predicts both the risk of CP as well as the need for an emergency c-section.
Their study looked at a group of over 400 term patients who were low risk coming into labor, along with normal EFM during the beginning of labor or as the author says “no apparent cause of harm except events of labor and delivery (Evans et al, 2019)”. 60 out of the 420 infants went on to develop CP, the remaining were used as controls for study. Comparing all of these cases against the FRI and the current ACOG system, they determined that the FRI was better for detecting injury during labor (Evans 2019). Their results also support the notion that the FRI is better for determining if an emergency c-section is needed better than traditional EFM interpretation.
This system may have many benefits over the traditional system in helping practitioners determine the right course of action during delivery.
If you believe a doctor’s error may have caused your child to develop cerebral palsy, either before or during delivery, the legal team of Holton Law Firm wants to help. Contact us today by calling 888-443-4387 and schedule your consultation to speak with an attorney about your situation.