Meconium Aspiration Syndrome Lawsuit

In the most routine, problem-free births, a baby’s meconium (excretory matter) stays safely stored in the baby’s intestines until after labor and delivery is completed. However, if the baby experiences significant distress during labor and delivery, the baby may pass its stool into its amniotic fluid sac and ingest it into the lungs.

The meconium can block the baby’s airways, causing decreased oxygen supply to the brain and is often accompanied by pneumonia. The medical team in the labor and delivery room must act immediately to clear the baby’s airway and mitigate irreversible brain injury. Although meconium aspiration is a reasonably common birth injury, many medical treatment providers fail to treat this emergency condition efficiently and thoroughly.

If you or a loved one gave birth to a fetus adversely impacted by meconium aspiration, call our team to discuss your legal rights.]

What is a Meconium Aspiration?

Sometimes referred to as Meconium Aspiration Syndrome (MAS), this condition can arise when a baby inhales its meconium, or stool passed before delivery, into its lungs along with the meconium-stained amniotic fluid. Typically, a baby does not pass meconium until after birth. Meconium aspiration usually occurs when the baby suffers severe stress during labor and delivery due to problems with its placenta or a decrease in the mother’s blood and oxygen levels.

Although Meconium Aspiration Syndrome is a life-threatening complication that can adversely impact the lungs and brain, immediate treatment of the issue should lead to injury-free results. When treated promptly and effectively, meconium aspiration does not cause permanent complications or injury. However, many doctors and nurses fail to address the warning signs of meconium aspiration in a fast and thorough manner, resulting in brain damage or with severe cases, asphyxiation of the baby.

What are the risk factors and warning signs of Meconium Aspiration Syndrome?

An experienced doctor will check for the warning signs and risk factors associated with Meconium Aspiration Syndrome before and after birth. Documentation supports that stress or trauma during labor and delivery can cause a baby to inhale meconium-stained amniotic fluid. Common birth injuries and traumas associated with Meconium Aspiration Syndrome 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

Medical care providers should recognize the warning signs and risk factors of meconium aspiration, which include the health of the mother during pregnancy, a pregnancy that has lasted long after the due date, and any other adverse event that can lead to oxygen deprivation in a newborn baby.

How Does the Treatment of Meconium Aspiration Syndrome Go Wrong?

If Meconium Aspiration Syndrome is not diagnosed promptly or treated adequately after the birth, meconium aspiration can lead to severe infection, low heart rate, restricted breathing and persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN). When medical providers in the labor and delivery room think that meconium aspiration has occurred, they are trained to immediately perform diagnostic tests, including X-rays of the lungs and chest and blood gas tests to check for acidosis. Adequate treatment of meconium aspiration may necessitate the use of a ventilator, increased oxygen supply and administration of antibiotics.

Immediately following birth, the labor and delivery medical team must check the baby for the presence of dark green fecal matter, which indicates the likely presence of meconium in the lungs. Immediate 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

With immediate and effective treatment of meconium aspiration, the injuries associated with meconium aspiration can be mitigated and corrected. However, when a doctor or nurse fails to take immediate and appropriate action when dealing with the signs and symptoms of meconium aspiration, the fetus may suffer a severe birth injury, including:

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE)
  • Respiratory distress
  • Seizures

Birth injuries and complications caused by Meconium Aspiration Syndrome can lead to severe and irreversible health problems for the baby.

What Should I do if My Baby Suffered a Meconium Aspiration During or After birth?

If you or a loved one gave birth and your baby experienced a Meconium Aspiration, give our team a call. The knowledgeable birth injury attorneys at the Eichholz Firm have the experience and resources available to investigate your case and determine if medical malpractice caused your child’s birth injury. Our team of attorneys is available to answer your questions and help you recover adequate compensation for your child’s medical care and related expenses.