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Meconium Aspiration Can Damage Baby’s Lungs, Hearing, Brain

 Posted on June 18, 2019 in Birth Injuries

Joliet Birth Injury Attorney

If your baby suffered a birth injury as a result of medical errors in treating meconium aspiration, you may want to seek malpractice compensation in order to provide proper lifetime care for your child.

What Is Meconium Aspiration Syndrome (MAS)?

In the womb, a baby does not use its lungs to breathe in oxygen. It cannot, since the baby is surrounded by amniotic fluid in the uterus. Instead, a baby receives oxygen through the umbilical cord. However, a baby in the womb will take “practice breaths” that harmlessly draw clean amniotic fluid into its lungs.

Meconium refers to a baby’s feces that may be excreted just before or during birth into the amniotic fluid. If the baby inhales, or aspirates, meconium, it can become trapped in the baby’s airways and impede breathing when the baby is born.

An estimated 11 percent of newborns will be affected by MAS. Meconium aspiration is usually recognized and treated very quickly after birth with no long-term harm to the baby. However, if proper medical treatment is not given, the baby can suffer permanent hearing loss, lung damage, and/or brain damage. A baby diagnosed with MAS should be tested for these injuries.

What Are Some Risk Factors for Meconium Aspiration Birth Injuries?

Three factors that increase the risk of a baby suffering damage from meconium aspiration are:

  • The mother had an infection in the uterus.

  • The baby was born after more than 40 weeks’ gestation.

  • The baby suffered distress during birth, e.g., hypoxia due to compression of the umbilical cord.

These conditions increase the likelihood of the baby releasing feces and breathing it in during delivery. The more meconium that the baby inhales, the greater the damage may be.

How Should Doctors Treat Meconium Aspiration?

Delivery room staff should easily be able to spot signs of meconium aspiration and begin treating it even before the baby is fully delivered. The medical team should provide treatments to clear the baby’s airway, ensure the baby is getting sufficient oxygen, and treat or prevent infection of the airways. In extreme cases, an artificial heart and lung system known as ECMO can be used to ensure the baby receives enough oxygenated blood flow.

Talk to a Skilled Cook County Birth Injury Lawyer

If your baby was injured due to medical malpractice during labor or delivery, particularly if you were told that your baby experienced meconium aspiration during birth, contact an experienced Orland Park birth injury attorney for advice on how to proceed. For a free consultation, call Schwartz Injury Law today at 708-888-2160 for our Orland Park Office or 815-723-7300 for our Joliet office.


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