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Meconium Aspiration Syndrome

Illinois medical malpractice lawyer for meconium aspiration

How MAS During Birth Can Harm a Child - Chicago Birth Injury Lawyer

When a baby is in the womb, fecal matter known as meconium will build up in their intestines. Meconium is usually passed from the baby's body within the first day or two after birth. However, if meconium is passed before the baby is born, it could potentially be breathed into the child's lungs. This can lead to a dangerous condition known as meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS).

Causes of MAS

An infant may pass meconium due to fetal distress during labor and delivery. This can occur because of prolonged labor, intense contractions caused by induced labor, or complications during delivery, such as the child being stuck in the birth canal. Risk factors for MAS include:

  • Post-term pregnancy - A child born after its due date will have produced more meconium and experienced a longer time period in which meconium could be inhaled.
  • Oligohydramnios - If there are lower amounts of amniotic fluid than normal in the uterus, any meconium that is passed will be less diluted and more dangerous if inhaled.
  • Maternal health conditions - If the mother experiences high blood pressure (preeclampsia) or gestational diabetes, this can increase the chances of fetal distress during labor and delivery.

Diagnosis and Treatment

An infant's heart rate should be closely monitored during labor and delivery, and if any signs of fetal distress are observed, doctors and nurses should be prepared to address potential meconium aspiration. If meconium is present in the amniotic fluid when the mother's water breaks, this is another sign that the child may have experienced MAS.

Following birth, medical personnel should be aware of the signs of meconium aspiration syndrome. If the child experiences any respiratory distress, such as struggling to breathe or ceasing to breathe altogether, immediate steps should be taken to ensure that they can receive enough oxygen. Cyanosis, or a bluish color of the baby's skin, is another sign that their lungs are unable to process oxygen. A child with MAS may also have low blood pressure or low pH levels in their blood.

The first step that is usually taken when treating MAS is to clear the child's airways by suctioning the nose and mouth to remove meconium. An oxygen mask may be used to inflate the lungs and ensure the child can receive enough oxygen, and in some cases, a breathing tube and external ventilator may be necessary. Nitric oxide may also be administered to improve blood flow and oxygen exchange in the baby's lungs. In serious cases, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) may be used to provide oxygen to the child's blood. Antibiotics may also be administered to address any infections that may have been contracted.

Effects of Meconium Aspiration

Because meconium aspiration syndrome affects a child's ability to breathe and process oxygen, it may result in asphyxia. A lack of oxygen to the brain can result in neonatal stroke and brain damage, and it may lead to conditions such as hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), periventricular leukomalacia (PVL), and Cerebral Palsy.

If it is not recognized and addressed immediately, MAS can cause serious, long-term damage to a child's health. Medical personnel should monitor a child's vital signs throughout labor and delivery and take the proper measures to avoid or respond to fetal distress. Failure to properly monitor a child or respond to signs of meconium aspiration syndrome may be considered medical negligence.

If your child has suffered harm because of MAS or any other complications that occurred during pregnancy, labor, or delivery, the Birth Injury Law Alliance can help you understand whether you may be able to take legal action to recover compensation. We provide free case evaluations, and we will work with you to ensure that your family has the financial resources you need to provide the care your child deserves. To schedule a complimentary consultation, contact us today by calling 312-945-1300.

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