ERNST & YOUNG
If your child suffered from meconium aspiration syndrome at birth, he or she might struggle with various physical and psychological injuries that can last a lifetime. These injuries might be due to the actions or even the negligence of a medical professional. As such, you might have certain legal rights regarding a possible medical malpractice claim.
An Overview of Meconium Aspiration Syndrome
Meconium aspiration syndrome is a form of oxygen deprivation that happens when meconium is found in the stool of an infant shortly after birth before he or she begins to nurse or take formula. The baby breathes amniotic fluid into his or her lungs in utero, which can cause lifelong physical and psychological medical issues -- and even result in death. The condition sometimes occurs in full-term babies who are undersized for that stage of gestation but more commonly in babies born after 42 weeks. A typical pregnancy lasts 40 weeks.
The baby doesn't begin to produce meconium until late in the pregnancy, so if a pregnancy goes past its due date, the baby could be exposed to meconium for a longer period of time. The amount of amniotic fluid decreases later in the pregnancy, causing the meconium to be more concentrated. As a result, MAS is extremely rare before 34 weeks gestation.
The meconium will only cause meconium aspiration syndrome it enters the fetus's respiratory system while the lungs transition from being filled with fluid to being filled with air. However, medical professionals do not know why meconium enters the amniotic fluid.
Between 7 and 10% of pregnancies result in meconium-stained amniotic fluid, and of these, 5% develop meconium aspiration syndrome.
Symptoms of Meconium Aspiration Syndrome
Meconium causes a green fluid to appear in the amniotic fluid, which is referred to as meconium staining. Babies who have been exposed to meconium in the amniotic fluid for a long time might suffer from skin and nails with a yellowish tinge.
Low amniotic fluid is one of the earliest signs of a failing placenta, which can mean death for the baby unless an emergency C-section is immediately performed. The severity of the MAS depends on the amount and thickness of the meconium, the length of time the baby was exposed to it, and the severity of respiratory distress.
The most common symptoms of meconium aspiration follow:
- accelerated breathing,
- groaning when breathing,
- enlarged chest due to trapped air,
- caving in of the chest,
- cyanosis, a blue or purple coloring of the baby's skin and
- low blood pressure.
Risk factors that may cause weight on the child before birth include:
- over-maturing of the placenta in a pregnancy that has gone past the due date,
- diminished oxygen to the newborn child while in the uterus,
- diabetes in the pregnant mother,
- troublesome and delayed labor and
- hypertension in the pregnant mother.
Babies who have their first bowel movement before birth have a 16% increased risk of developing autism. These findings have helped medical professionals establish a new understanding for the risk of autism. In the future, the disease might potentially be diagnosed or determined before birth.
Health Repercussions of Meconium Aspiration Syndrome
Meconium aspiration syndrome can lead to long-term injuries in the baby, which might mean expensive care in the future. A procedure called amnioinfusion can be used to determine if your baby has been exposed to meconium during labor to prevent severe breathing problems. In this procedure, a small tube is inserted into the uterus through the vagina. Sterile fluid is put into the womb through this tube to dilute the meconium.
Sample Case Studies
A baby died shortly after birth at a birth center in Fort Mill, South Carolina in 2015 due to meconium aspiration. The death was ruled a homicide. Midwives began CPR on the baby, giving him oxygen, and used a bulb syringe to try to remove the meconium from his mouth but to no avail. The center had had at least one prior wrongful death lawsuit and a previous closure for failure to comply with state law, so this incident was not the facility's first exposure to medical malpractice
In an unrelated case, the federal government settled a medical malpractice lawsuit for $4 million after the newborn sustained serious brain injuries due to meconium aspiration syndrome.
In 2012, while at the military hospital in Pendleton, the mother was admitted to the hospital as she was in active labor. However, the baby's heart rate was dropping, and the meconium was very thick. Despite these warning signs, doctors decided against a C-section. At birth, the baby was blind and suffered from seizures and serious brain trauma.
The parties agreed to a settlement, half of which will be invested and used for lifetime care for the baby.
Call our Maryland Medical Malpractice Lawyer Today
We under If your newborn was a victim of meconium aspiration syndrome, please contact us for more information about your legal options. At Weltchek, Mallahan, and Weltchek, we can discuss a plan of action to provide you with the most favorable outcome. Contact us today as the laws surrounding these cases affect when you can file. We look forward to representing you.