The same heightened electrical activity that indicates an adult taking a treadmill test isnt getting enough oxygen to his heart is now being measured during labor to see if it can better identify babies in serious distress who need immediate delivery. The Medical College of Georgia in Augusta is the lead site in the nation to help determine whether monitoring ST segment activity during labor reduces the number of babies born with hypoxic brain damage as well as unnecessary Caesarean sections.
"The umbilical cord, the brain and the heart are the particular aspects of the fetus that have to be conserved almost at all costs to maintain life," says Dr. Lawrence D. Devoe, Brooks Professor and chair of the MCG Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. "When you start seeing changes in the heart that suggest an oxygen deficit, such as elevations in the ST segment, that means your ability to handle an overall lack of oxygen has been exceeded and your defenses are beginning to crumble."
Dr. Devoe is a principal investigator on the study of a device that combines this ST segment monitoring – which also is measured in an electrocardiogram, or ECG, – with the standard fetal heart rate monitoring performed on 80 to 90 percent of the 3.2 million babies exposed to labor in the United States each year.
Toni Baker | EurekAlert!
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