Meconium aspiration can cause asthma and several other respiratory issues, in some cases. If it was present in the womb, a newborn may inhale a mixture of meconium—or fetal stool—and amniotic fluid while taking their first breaths. This mixture can become stuck in the lungs, making it difficult for the child to breathe.
According to research from Stanford Children’s Health, meconium aspiration syndrome is rare. Still, when it happens and goes untreated, it can lead to inflammation, infection, and a number of other respiratory consequences. Several studies have found a relation between MAS and the subsequent development of asthma or asthma-like conditions.
As such, it is important to understand that meconium aspiration is preventable and treatable, particularly if a doctor monitors for the presence of it during labor and takes the necessary steps. If your infant inhaled meconium at birth and your doctor fails to address it, resulting in the development of respiratory issues, you may have a medical malpractice case.
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Meconium Aspiration Syndrome and Asthma
While MAS does not typically result in permanent lung damage, there are studies that suggest children born with this syndrome have a higher risk of developing reactive airway disease, according to John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.
Both meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS) and asthma are conditions that in some way restrict the airways, making it difficult to breathe. When an infant inhales meconium, the sticky substance can get caught in the air sacs of the lungs, potentially blocking air from entering or exiting.
Similarly, asthma is a narrowing and swelling of the airways that can also cause a build-up of excess mucus. The primary symptoms of asthma may include:
- The need to take quick, short breaths.
- Pain or tightness that manifests in the chest area.
- Coughing, especially that which results in an audible wheezing or whistling sound.
- Difficulty obtaining the proper amount of sleep due to interruptions caused by coughing spells.
- A wheezing sound during normal exhalations.
The most dangerous effects of asthma occur during asthma attacks. These recurrent flare-ups can come seemingly out of nowhere or be triggered by environmental and health-related factors. These attacks, which can worsen as sufferers grow older, can affect victims both mentally and physically, potentially limiting their way of life. It is possible to experience an asthma attack severe enough to result in death.
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Treatment and Prevention of Meconium Aspiration Syndrome
There are steps that physicians can take to prevent a baby from breathing in meconium in the first place. First and foremost, a physician can check to see if meconium is present in the amniotic fluid before the baby is born, a process called meconium staining.
When a doctor finds meconium, they can take precautions to prevent the baby from inhaling it, such as flushing meconium out of the womb prior to the birth. If a baby is born before this can happen, the doctor can use a suctioning tool to suck any meconium out of the airways. If the condition worsens, treatments may include:
- Administering antibiotics.
- Providing oxygen therapy.
- Using a surfactant to help the baby’s lungs continue to function properly.
Receiving immediate and proper treatment for meconium aspiration may decrease a newborn’s chances of developing asthma as a result. Failure to prevent or treat MAS may qualify as negligence. In these cases, medical professionals may be held liable for causing the condition if they failed to fulfill the duty of care toward their patients.
Birth Injury Lawyers Fighting for Victims of Meconium Aspiration
If you are asking yourself, “Can meconium aspiration cause asthma?” you may already have a medical malpractice case on your hands. Here at the Birth Injury Lawyers Group, we may be able to represent your family and fight for your right to compensation when you have fallen victim to an act of medical negligence.
We can be there to help provide a variety of legal services for your needs. Whether it is gathering evidence of liability, negotiating settlements, or taking care of your entire legal proceeding, the attorneys at the Birth Injury Lawyers Group may help you seek justice.
After carefully examining the circumstances of your case, our attorneys can discuss your legal options. To get started with your free consultation today, contact a representative at the Birth Injury Lawyers Group today at (800) 222-9529.