Pediatric Heart Expert Forum
Irregular Fetal Heartbeat, Missed beats
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Irregular Fetal Heartbeat, Missed beats

I am 26 weeks pregnant. Had a normal anomoly scan at 20 weeks. I have a doppler at home I have been checking baby about once every 2 days up till 20 weeks. The heart always sounded fine no missed beats. Around 21 weeks, i heard an irregular rythm. Basically the heart beats about 5 beats pauses, 7 beats pauses, 10 beats pauses, 7 beats pauses and so on. The heart rate is around 125-130 when she is resting and can get up to about 140 when active. I cut out caffeine drinks and cut down on chocolate as i had read it could help and the problem seemed to go away for a week. I checked about 3 times a day and it was great. No missed beats. I thought it had gone. At around 25 weeks it started again, but it seems even worse. I am still having no caffeine and little chocolate. I worry my blood sugar may be causing problems? Although nothing is detected in urine sample tests. Midwives confirmed the missing beat, however typically when they have listened it seems to not be as bad. For the last 4 days a beat has been missed less than every 10 beats consistently. Prior to this there did seem to be some recovery periods i.e she would have the irregularity for around 6 hours then it would go perfect again for a few hours then go irregular again. I saw an obstetrician yesterday who said its normal and not to worry. He didnt check the baby, nor recommend scans just said it happens! But I worry the arrhythmia is getting worse. I am so scared that there could be something wrong with the placenta, that she is not growing or that it is affecting her. It appears the problem seems worse when she is resting too, when she perks up it doesn't seem as bad. In fact when she is active it appears there are extra beats rather than missed beats.
I worry about the frequency of the missed beats, there seems currently to be on average about 20 to 25 missed beats a minute. Can you offer any advice?
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Irregularities of the fetal heart rate are common and are usually related to extra beats that come from the upper heart chambers called premature atrial contractions (PACs).  There is nothing to do about these if they are single and not coming in runs. They may come and go during pregnancy and may even be heard after birth, but usually go away on their own early in life.  Less often the irregular heart beat is due to other causes, like heart block.  The best way to determine the cause of the heart rate irregularity is to perform a fetal echocardiogram.  this is a targeted ultrasound that just looks at the heart structure and function, and can evaluate the heart rhythm.  This is usually performed and interpreted by a pediatric cardiologist.  Your OB is correct in saying that fetal arrhythmias are common and generally benign, but if you are highly concerned then you should talk to them further.
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