Meconium Aspiration Attorney
What Is Meconium?
Meconium is dark green fecal matter found in the intestines of a fetus, which infants pass during their first few days of life. Under normal circumstances, meconium is not passed from the baby’s body until soon after birth. In some cases, however, fetal distress during labor may cause the infant to pass meconium stools into the amniotic fluid while still inside the uterus.
After meconium gets into the amniotic fluid, the infant may breathe it into the lungs. This can cause a condition known as meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS), in which the newborn infant experiences breathing problems. MAS can have serious and potentially life-threatening complications.
Causes of Meconium Aspiration
Stress during labor can cause increased movement of the infant’s intestines and relaxation of the sphincter muscle, which allows meconium to pass into the amniotic fluid. Fetal stress during labor can result from:
- Decreased oxygen supply to the infant in the uterus
- Pregnancy that goes beyond the due date (more than 40 weeks)
- A long or difficult labor
- High blood pressure or diabetes in the mother
Emergency Treatment for Meconium Aspiration
When MAS has occurred, the infant will need emergency medical treatment immediately after birth. The doctor will first suction the baby’s nose, mouth, and throat. Then a tube is placed in the newborn’s trachea to suction out the fluid containing meconium. Suction is continued until no more meconium can be seen in the fluid removed from the baby’s windpipe.
If the heart rate is low or the infant is not breathing, the doctor will use a mask and bag to help the child breathe, deliver oxygen, and inflate the lungs. A breathing tube may be needed for a child who is not breathing on his own, or for one who is seriously ill. After emergency treatment, the infant may be placed in a special care unit for additional treatment and observation.
Complications of Meconium Aspiration Syndrome
Many newborns with mild MAS are able to recover with no long-term health consequences, while others are not as fortunate. Meconium aspiration is a serious matter that can lead to:
- PPHN: Persistent pulmonary hypertension is a life-threatening condition in which blood flow is restricted by high blood pressure in the lungs’ vessels, making it difficult for the child to breathe properly.
- Brain damage: Although the occurrence is rare, severe MAS can limit the supply of oxygen to the brain, causing permanent brain damage to the child.
If Your Child Has Suffered MAS, You Can Call Us
Physicians can help prevent MAS by monitoring the health of the fetus and the condition of the placenta before the delivery. Once MAS has occurred, it is vital that medical professionals act swiftly to provide effective emergency medical treatment, so the child’s brain is not deprived of oxygen. If your baby suffered meconium aspiration syndrome and you believe your health care providers were negligent in managing the situation, call us today at (214) 974-4121. Birth injury lawyer Laura Brown will be happy to meet with you in a free case consultation and advise you of your options under the law.