In the event of an incident-free birth, a newborn baby’s meconium (excretory matter) remains safely stored in the large and small intestines until after the baby is delivered. However, if the baby is in distress during labor and delivery, the baby may pass his stool into the amniotic fluid sac and ingest it.
The stool often blocks the baby’s airways, resulting in decreased oxygen supply to the brain and is often accompanied by pneumonia. The team of physicians and nurses in the delivery room must act quickly to clear the airway and prevent irreversible brain injury. Despite meconium aspiration being a common birth injury, many medical teams fail to treat this emergency condition promptly and effectively. If you or someone you love gave birth to a child adversely affected by meconium aspiration, give our Maryland meconium aspiration lawyer a call to discuss your legal rights.
What is a Meconium Aspiration?
Also referred to as Meconium Aspiration Syndrome (MAS), this condition occurs when a baby inhales meconium, or stool passed before delivery, into its lungs along with the meconium-stained amniotic fluid. In regular, complication-free deliveries, the baby does not pass meconium until after birth. Meconium aspiration often occurs when a baby suffers from distress during the labor and delivery process due to problems with the placenta or the mother’s blood and oxygen levels.
Although meconium aspiration is a severe complication that can adversely affect the lungs, prompt treatment of the issue often leads to favorable results. When treated promptly and adequately, meconium aspiration does not cause long-term or permanent complications. However, many medical treatment providers fail to respond appropriately to the warning signs of meconium aspiration, resulting in brain damage or severe cases, the death of the infant.
What are the warning signs of Meconium Aspiration Syndrome?
A knowledgeable doctor will look for warning signs and risk factors associated with Meconium Aspiration Syndrome. It is well known that distress or trauma during the labor and delivery process can cause a baby to inhale meconium-stained amniotic fluid. Common birth traumas associated with meconium aspiration include:
- Gestational Diabetes
- Prolonged Labor
- Oxygen Deficiency
- Perinatal Asphyxia
- Respiratory Distress
- Fetal Hypoxia
- High Blood Pressure
- Low Apgar Score
- Baby’s Skin, Nail Beds Or Umbilical Cord Being Stained Green
Treatment providers should recognize the warning signs and risk factors for meconium aspiration, which include the health of the mother, a pregnancy that has lasted long after the due date, and any other known complication that can lead to oxygen deprivation in a fetus.
How does treatment of Meconium Aspiration Syndrome go wrong?
If Meconium Aspiration Syndrome is not discovered and diagnosed promptly or is not treated adequately after birth, meconium aspiration can lead to severe infection, low heart rate, controlled breathing or persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN). When labor and delivery medical providers suspect that meconium aspiration has occurred, they should immediately perform diagnostic tests, such as lung X-rays and blood gas tests to check for acidosis. The thorough treatment of meconium aspiration may require the use of a ventilator, increased oxygen, and antibiotics.
Immediately after birth, the medical team must inspect the baby for the presence of dark green fecal matter, which indicates the presence of meconium in the lungs.
Prompt action must be taken to prevent injury to the fetus, including:
- Suction Applied At The Baby’s Mouth, Nose And Throat Passages To Remove The Meconium
- A Tube Inserted At The Baby’s Mouth Or Windpipe To Clear Meconium Ingested In The Lungs
- Ventilation If The Baby Does Not Have Sufficient Oxygen Flow To Its Lungs
- Administration Of Nitric Oxide To Relax Baby’s Lungs And Allow Increased Oxygen Flow
When prompt and thorough treatment of meconium aspiration is administered, the adverse effects of meconium aspiration can be controlled and corrected. However, when a medical treatment provider fails to take appropriate action when faced with the signs and symptoms of meconium aspiration, the baby may suffer a severe birth injury, including:
- Cerebral Palsy
- Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE)
- Respiratory Distress
Birth injuries and adverse events caused by Meconium Aspiration Syndrome can lead to lifelong, irreversible health problems for the baby.
Contact a Maryland Meconium Aspiration Attorney
If you or someone you love gave birth and the fetus experienced Meconium Aspiration Syndrome, give us a call. The experienced Maryland meconium aspiration attorneys at Ketterer, Browne & Anderson have the expertise and resources available to investigate the facts of your case and determine if medical negligence caused your child’s birth injury. Our team is available to answer your questions and help you recover adequate compensation for your child’s medical care and related costs.