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Observations on heart rate and pH in the human fetus during labor

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      Eighty-five human fetuses were studied during labor by continuously monitoring the fetal heart rate (FHR) and uterine contractions and correlating FHR patterns with 218 averaged values of fetal pH derived from 618 single samples. The FHR patterns in the 20 minutes immediately preceding the fetal blood sampling period were used for correlation. In general, the correlation between FHR base-line levels and fetal pH is poor. When tachycardia was present slightly more than half of the pH values were in the pH range above 7.25, and slightly less than 30 per cent were in the range of 7.20 or less. Specific FHR deceleration patterns are definitely associated with disturbances in acid-base balance. This is especially true of late deceleration and severe variable deceleration. Moderate variable deceleration is also associated with a minor shift to the acid side. Of the 102 pH values associated with an innocuous FHR pattern, 94 per cent were above 7.25 pH units.
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