The maternal and fetal acid-base, lactate, and pyruvate characteristics during the course of labor and at delivery were studied in 124 patients delivered of an infant with evidence of metabolic acidosis at delivery. This metabolic acidosis is principally caused by hyperlactatemia resulting from the tissue oxygen debt accompanying fetal asphyxia. Hypoxemia was one mechanism contributing to this fetal asphyxia and tissue oxygen debt. This evidence of fetal asphyxia developed during the last half and principally during the last two hours of the intrapartum period. Acid-base assessment of fetal blood with identification of a metabolic acidosis will provide an accurate objective diagnosis of intrapartum fetal asphyxia.
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