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The Physiology of Fetal Heart Rate Patterns and Perinatal Asphyxia

King, Tekoa CNM, MPH; Parer, Julian MD, PhD

The Journal of Perinatal & Neonatal Nursing: December 2000 - Volume 14 - Issue 3 - p 19–39
Original Articles
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The purpose of electronic fetal heart rate (FHR) monitoring is the ongoing assessment of fetal oxygenation. FHR tracings are analyzed for characteristic patterns that signify specific hypoxic or nonhypoxic events. A working knowledge of fetal physiology and the fetal response to hypoxia can aid and refine clinical interpretation of FHR patterns during labor. This article reviews the fetal response to decreased oxygenation, the physiology of subsequent FHR patterns and the clinical presentation of asphyxia in the newborn.

Associate Clinical Professor, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, California (King)

Professor, Director Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, California (Parer)

Submitted for publication: January 26, 2000; Accepted for publication: July 23, 2000

Copyright © 2000 by Aspen Publishers, Inc.