Meconium Aspiration Birth Injury Attorney
Were you or your unborn baby the victim of doctor negligence that led to a birth injury? Did the obstetrician make an error resulting in meconium aspiration birth injury? The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers handle medical negligence cases and can serve as your legal advocates.
Call our birth injury attorneys today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) or use the contact form to schedule a free case evaluation.
What is Meconium Aspiration Syndrome Affecting Amniotic Fluid?
Doctors identified meconium as dark green fecal matter residing in a fetus's intestines passed through the bowels a few days after childbirth.
Babies can sometimes inhale or aspirate meconium (baby's first bowel movement) immediately before or during delivery into their lungs. When this occurs, the child may develop a complication known as meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS).
Inhaling the fluid can block the baby's airways when the child exhales, making breathing difficult. Additionally, the newborn might have a meconium plug that can entirely block the baby's airway. Typically, meconium aspiration syndrome can result in severe complications, including chemical irritation to the lung tissue and infection.
Meconium aspiration syndrome requires immediate medical attention after childbirth. Unfortunately, meconium aspiration is a common occurrence that happens before, during, and after delivery. There are events where meconium is released from the baby's intestines while still a fetus in the uterus and released into the amniotic fluid before childbirth.
When adequately treated with suctioning and a course of antibiotics, most babies will fully recover from meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS). However, when medical staff fail to identify newborns with meconium aspiration syndrome, the child risks serious complications that can lead to permanent birth injuries and disabilities.
Meconium-Stained Amniotic Fluid
Neonatal resuscitation might be required to restore the baby's breathing in cases where the newborn inhaled meconium. Less than 20 years ago, managing a newborn delivery with meconium-stained amniotic fluid required suctioning the nasopharynx and oropharynx after the baby's head was delivered during childbirth but before delivering the shoulders.
New guidelines no longer support this practice because data shows that routine intrapartum suctioning fails to alter or prevent meconium aspiration syndrome and healthy infants born with the condition.
However, new guidelines support intubation of the trachea and suctioning meconium and other aspirated material from beneath the vocal cords (glottis) of the larynx in severe cases where the newborn is not vigorous.
Meconium Aspiration: Restricted Oxygen and Blood Supply
The doctor should use fetal monitoring to prevent complications and babies at risk for MAS or another complicated birth injury, like cerebral palsy. Additionally, any restricted blood flow or oxygen or the infant having a slow heart rate usually requires immediate intervention to restore their oxygenated blood flow.
If oxygenated blood cannot be fully restored, the doctor likely has no other option than to perform an emergency delivery. The results of any failure to monitor the infant properly or a delay in the emergency delivery could be catastrophic, leading to severe brain damage or even death of the newborn.
Doctors may identify issues with the umbilical cord or placenta if the expected due date is past due, leading to blood or oxygen deprivation, one of MAS's few signs and symptoms. Any delay in an expected delivery or emergency C-section could cause severe injury, permanent brain damage, or newborn death.
Treating Meconium Aspiration Syndrome
When the infant inhales their first stool, the occurrence of meconium aspiration syndrome requires immediate treatment to ensure that the meconium is removed from the upper airway. After childbirth, the physician will immediately suction the throat, mouth, and nose to remove any of the baby's meconium inhaled in the womb or during delivery.
If the newborn is not breathing or does not respond well, the doctor may place a tube in their windpipe (trachea) to suction the amniotic fluid containing meconium from the windpipe. The medical team must monitor the baby closely to identify any life-threatening injury caused by decreased oxygen supply.
If the newborn still does not breathe or has no heart rate, the physician will likely utilize a bag and mask to help deliver oxygen to the baby's lungs through inflation. Again, emergency treatment might be the only recourse to avoid any serious complications associated with meconium aspiration.
The most common treatments doctors use to overcome the most common risk factors of MAS include:
- Oxygen therapy to ensure that the blood is oxygenated,
- Using radiant water to help maintain the baby's body temperature,
- Administering antibiotics including gentamicin and ampicillin to treat or prevent infection,
- Using a ventilator (breathing machine) to encourage breathing,
- Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation to help the newborn responded to treatments or perform lung function if there is high blood pressure in the lungs
Meconium staining on the child's vocal cords observed through a laryngoscope indicates MAS as dark green or brownish staining in the mother's amniotic fluid. Any sign of limpness in the newborn at birth could indicate MAS, as could breathing problems or total absence of breathing, or bluish skin color.
Medical professionals might analyze the newborn's blood to determine if the blood has low pH (acidic) or if the child has increased carbon dioxide and a lack of oxygen. In addition, using a stethoscope to listen to the baby's chest could detect abnormal breath sounds and children reacting to MAS.
Inhaling nitric oxide to treat persistent pulmonary hypertension is highly effective in children with MAS. Studies show that the inhaled nitric oxide made a significant difference in newborn survival and babies with pulmonary hypertension, MAS, or another respiratory birth injury, like cerebral palsy.
Attorneys for Birth Injury Claims Involving Meconium Aspiration
If your newborn has suffered a birth injury involving meconium aspiration syndrome, you need a Chicago medical malpractice attorney at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC. The experienced birth injury lawyers are just a phone call away.
We can help you as you explore the possibility of a lawsuit to hold the hospital staff accountable. Contact us today for your free consultation.
Causes of Meconium Aspiration Syndrome (MAS)
Most severe cases of meconium aspiration syndrome derive from the fact that the baby suffered some form of fetal distress during the birthing process, causing them to ingest fecal matter after its released in a bowel movement.
When babies are not getting an adequate supply of blood and oxygen, their bodies are thought to respond to the stress by expelling meconium. Under stress, the baby's intestines expel thick meconium.
Knowing the complications that can ensue following fetus distress, health care providers must carefully monitor the baby's health, especially to detect the presence of meconium. The most critical monitoring method is believed to be fetal monitoring to determine a complication at its onset.
Signs of Meconium Aspiration Syndrome
Any obstetrician should know the dangers and signs of meconium aspiration syndrome. Children born with meconium in the amniotic fluid are at a much higher risk, 100-fold of developing respiratory diseases and other complications.
When babies pass meconium during a bowel movement, and it is released into the amniotic fluid, it is visible as a dark green color and should be the first sign that the child may have breathed in the substance in utero or while they are in the birth canal.
When this occurs, the medical team must take appropriate action immediately. In addition, the newborn baby often will have symptoms such as:
- Labored breathing
- Bluish skin color
If the child is treated for meconium aspiration syndrome immediately, they most likely will not have any long-term problems. However, when these signs are ignored due to negligence in severe birth injury cases, the child is in danger of severe health problems.
To protect the child, the medical team must know the risk factors for MAS and perform the appropriate diagnostic tests.
Serious Complications Derived From Untreated MAS
When MAS occurs, most likely, the child already had a difficult birth, causing distress. The attending doctor and nursing staff are responsible for being aware of any possible problems arising from the stress of birth, including MAS.
When medical professionals do not give a newborn the appropriate treatment for this condition, the child will often have difficulty breathing and become short on oxygen in the baby's lungs. As a result, the lungs can be significantly compromised, leading to a lifelong birth injury.
Due to these complications, the child may suffer a birth injury including:
- Aspiration pneumonia
- Collapsed lung
- Brain damage or another brain injury
- Cerebral Palsy
- Persistent pulmonary hypertension- inability to get adequate oxygen supply throughout the body
These complications occurring when the baby inhales meconium, especially brain damage, can lead to permanent mental and physical disabilities. The true extent of the damage may not be noticeable at first, but as the child develops, cognitive and behavioral issues may become apparent.
These can be lifelong disabilities that can cause physical, emotional, and financial problems for both the child and their family.
Meconium Aspiration and Medical Negligence
In cases involving meconium aspiration syndrome, meconium is the bile-stained odorless content in the fetus's bowel intestine that develops between the 10th and 16th weeks of pregnancy. Meconium floating in amniotic fluid is not a critical risk factor for the fetus in the womb but could be devastating for the newborn.
Up to 20% of all live births involve meconium, and in about 10% of cases, meconium is found in amniotic fluid that could get into the baby's lungs, causing MAS.
Typically, MAS results from a failure to deal with the increased risk to the newborn when exposed to meconium. However, other cases involve malpractice where meconium led to a preventable birth injury.
A knowledgeable medical malpractice attorney can investigate what caused MAS. For example, the lawyer can evaluate whether the medical professionals were negligent by delaying childbirth while the fetus was in distress or experiencing MAS after birth.
In pursuing a malpractice lawsuit against the delivery team, your birth injury attorneys can hold all responsible parties legally accountable to ensure your family has the financial resources needed to provide lifetime care to your injured newborn.
Birth Injury Lawyers Prosecuting Meconium Aspiration Cases
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC works with some leading doctors who can evaluate fetal monitoring strips and other medical records to evaluate meconium aspiration syndrome cases.
Our Chicago, Illinois, birth injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC will build a strong case after determining the full extent of your child's birth injuries. In addition, we will ensure that your family receives adequate compensation for your child's future needs through a medical malpractice lawsuit.
For example, in building birth injury lawsuits, our law firm uses the services of a life-care planner who evaluates the needs of each child for their immediate and long-term care needs. Our law firm then hires an economist who can extrapolate the economic costs of the family's lifelong expenses.
While these cases do require a tremendous amount of work to get going, our law firm intends to ensure the best possible outcome for each birth injury case and protect the legal rights of each child.
However, we understand that many families do not have sufficient funds to hire an attorney. Because of that, we accept all personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning all fees are postponed until the case is resolved.
Call our birth injury attorneys at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or fill out the contact form today to schedule a free initial consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share will create an attorney-client relationship.
- National Institute of Health – Meconium Aspiration Syndrome
- Johns Hopkins Medicine – Meconium Aspiration Syndrome
Many medical malpractice cases have already been resolved through million-dollar settlements to ensure families have sufficient financial compensation for providing all the treatment and caring their child requires.