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What is Meconium Aspiration?

Personal Injury Lawyer

If your child has suffered a severe or catastrophic birth injury, talk to a Birth Injury Lawyer to learn if you may be eligible to receive compensation from the medical caregiver responsible for causing the injury. A settlement can provide for your child and make it possible for them to receive long term care and enjoy a higher quality of life. Though not all birth injuries are preventable, and therefore nobody is responsible, far too many are caused by negligent physicians or hospitals. Meconium aspiration syndrome is a common birth injury that is often preventable. If your child was recently diagnosed with meconium aspiration syndrome, contact our birth injury lawyer to learn if you are eligible to seek compensation from the at-fault party for medical treatment and other damages.

How does meconium aspiration syndrome develop?

Though a baby does not breathe oxygen while in the womb, it does receive oxygen through their umbilical cord. As the baby grows within the womb, it will take mini-breaths, otherwise known as practice breaths. As the baby does this, its lungs draw in amniotic fluid but there is no harm in that. The baby may also excrete its feces into the same amniotic fluid, which is called meconium. If the baby aspirates (inhales) the meconium, it can get trapped in the baby’s airways, making it impossible for the child to breathe when it is initially born.

Meconium aspiration syndrome is present in nearly 11% of children when born. A competent physician will recognize this condition immediately and take corrective action. If they delay, or do not recognize that the baby cannot breathe or the cause, the child may die. If the meconium is removed, but not fast enough, the child may live but suffer from permanent hearing loss, lung damage, and brain damage.

What is required for proper and timely treatment of meconium aspiration syndrome?

Expedient treatment of meconium aspiration syndrome is fairly straightforward because the symptoms are easily recognized. The physician should begin treatment prior to when the baby is fully born.

  • The baby’s airway should be immediately cleared in order to ensure that the baby is able to get sufficient oxygen into its lungs.
  • The physician should also provide care to prevent infection from developing in the baby’s airway or lungs.
  • If the baby is suffering from an advanced case, the physician may need to use a specialized extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machine. It simulates the lung system and performs much like an artificial heart. This functionality can ensure that the baby is receiving a healthy amount of oxygenated blood flow.

What are the indicators that an infant is at risk for meconium aspiration syndrome?

If a child is more likely to aspirate in this way during the delivery, one or more of the following factors may apply:

  • The baby’s birth occurs more than 40 weeks gestation.
  • The baby underwent a form of distress during the delivery process.
  • Prior to the baby’s birth, the mother suffered from a uterine infection.

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