The Medical College of Georgia informs:
The same heightened electrical activity that indicates an adult taking a treadmill test isn’t 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.”
Fetal ECG is obtained via a scalp electrode. Changes in the T wave and the ST segment of the fetal ECG are automatically identified and analysed. An increase in T wave amplitude, in relation to QRS amplitude, corresponds to the utilisation of glycogen stores and thereby to myocardial anaerobic metabolism. Since anaerobic metabolism is the prime fetal defence against hypoxia, the T/QRS ratio provides direct information about the fetal situation.