Yes, a baby can die from meconium aspiration, and it is important to know how common it is for this outcome to take place.
According to research from Stanford Children’s Health, death will occur in only a small number of newborns when the case is severe. However, studies from Johns Hopkins Medicine show that meconium aspiration is a leading cause of severe illness and death in newborns, occurring in roughly 5% to 10% of births.
The condition occurs when a baby breathes in a combination of meconium and amniotic fluid, which can lead to severe complications. When these abnormal substances are introduced into the baby’s lungs, swelling can occur, which can affect the child’s breathing patterns. In severe cases, this swelling can lead to asphyxiation.
Additionally, research from Stanford Children’s Health shows that meconium aspiration can cause potentially serious infections like pneumonia. Ultimately, it is important to understand the risk factors and circumstances that can lead to the meconium aspiration, which may allow for early detection, intervention, and proper medical treatment.
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Causes of Meconium Aspiration
For meconium aspiration to occur, the baby must excrete their first stool while still in the uterus, and subsequently inhale a portion of it. According to studies by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), meconium can be released in the uterus if a baby becomes distressed when they cannot obtain a sufficient amount of blood and oxygen.
As such, stress inflicted on the baby before or during birth is a common cause of meconium aspiration. This stress can be caused by a variety of contributing factors, including:
- Oxygen deprivation before or during birth
- Mothers who are suffering from diabetes
- Prolonged or difficult labors
- When birth occurs after the expected due date
- Mothers who suffer from untreated high blood pressure
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Symptoms of Meconium Aspiration
Meconium aspiration syndrome can be detected by an inspection of the amniotic fluid, which may take on a greenish hue when a baby is afflicted with the condition. This phenomenon is referred to as meconium staining.
Research from Johns Hopkins Medicine details several symptoms that can be observed in babies with meconium aspiration, including:
- The infant appears to be suffering from limpness during or after birth
- The newborn has difficulty breathing, or other abnormal functions
- The presence of a bluish tint in the skin of newborns
Diagnosing Meconium Aspiration
While examining the baby’s vital signs, research from Johns Hopkins Medicine describes several tests doctors can use to help diagnose the syndrome, including:
- Chest X-rays used to examine the lungs, which may appear patchy or streaky in nature
- While utilizing a fetal monitor before birth, doctors sometimes find babies with meconium aspiration syndrome to have a depressed heart rate.
- When doctors suspect the presence of meconium in the amniotic fluid, the most accurate method of detection involves using a laryngoscope to inspect the vocal cords for signs of meconium staining.
- Using a blood gas analysis to document low levels of blood acidity, high amounts of carbon dioxide, or diminished quantities of oxygen
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Birth Injury Lawyers Representing Victims of Meconium Aspiration
At the Birth Injury Lawyers Group, we have seen firsthand the types of injuries and heartache that can come from medical negligence —especially when dealing with meconium aspiration cases. The way we see it, no family should ever have to experience the death of a baby due to meconium aspiration. That is why our attorneys will be there for you to help fight to protect your right to compensation.
We have worked with birth injury victims over the years. Doing so has allowed us to gain a unique perspective on the laws and precedents that govern these types of cases. We realize that each case brings a unique set of challenges.
To help serve your legal needs during a time like this, our law firm offers multiple legal services, including:
- Assigning case values
- Bringing your case to trial
- Gathering evidence about your case to prove liability
- Settlement negotiations
- Communicating with individuals involved with your case
- Advising you about relevant laws and proceedings
No matter what you decide, remember that you do not have to go through this alone. We can be there to help guide you through your legal proceedings.
Ultimately, we would love to begin gathering information about your case as soon as possible so we can help advise you on your legal options.
To get started with your free case review and consultation today, contact a team member at the Birth Injury Lawyers Group at (800) 222-9529.