The effects of meconium aspiration syndrome can range from mild to serious. Depending on the severity of the case and the time it takes to diagnose it, this syndrome can even lead to death. According to research from Johns Hopkins Medicine, meconium aspiration is a leading cause of severe illness and death in the newborns. In fact, the condition reportedly occurs in 5% to 10% of births.
When asking, “How dangerous is meconium aspiration?” it is necessary to know the wide variety of symptoms and complications it can cause. Complications that arise from meconium aspiration can include, but are not limited to:
- Suffocation caused by pieces of meconium that have entered their airway. When meconium sticks to an infant’s airways, it becomes difficult for the baby to draw in a breath. Air can also become trapped in their lungs.
- Respiratory syndrome asthma, which children are more likely to suffer from when they experience meconium aspiration. This can show symptoms soon after birth or not manifest itself until much later. There is no cure for asthma, and it can result in lifelong difficulties or, in the most severe cases, death.
- Various lung infections. The presence of fecal matter in the airways can cause pneumonia and other infections to spread throughout the newborn’s lungs.
- Brain damage. Oxygen deprivation caused by meconium caught in the lungs can harm the brain in numerous ways.
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Reasons Meconium Aspiration Occurs
When babies become stressed in the womb, they sometimes release meconium. Meconium is the initial feces newborn’s excrement, and it has unique properties. The substance is normally green in color and thick in consistency.
Once meconium enters the womb, it mixes with the amniotic fluid. The baby may then aspirate, or inhale, this combination of stool and amniotic fluid upon birth. The presence of this sticky mixture in the lungs can cause them to become clogged and inflamed.
Meconium aspiration can only occur if the baby excretes their first collection of feces while inside the womb, but this does not occur with every birth. According to studies from the Rare and Genetic Diseases Information Center, a baby is likely to let out meconium before delivery when suffering from excess stress due to an inability to receive the proper amount of oxygen.
Therefore, doctors may point to stress before or at the time of birth as the primary cause of meconium aspiration syndrome. With this in mind, the following conditions may make the syndrome more probable:
- When the length of the labor period is especially long or taxing on the mother and child
- The presence of diabetes in the mother
- Blood pressure levels in the mother that are abnormally high
- A compromise in the levels of oxygen the baby is able to receive around the moment of birth
- Births that take place after the expected due date
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The Importance of Early Detection in Cases of Meconium Aspiration
When it comes to meconium aspiration, early detection is key. From the moment doctors become aware that meconium is present in the mother’s amniotic fluid, they can begin to take preventative steps. If the birth has not yet occurred, they may attempt to flush the meconium out of the womb.
If the baby has already aspirated some of the meconium, doctors should try to remove as much of the substance from the baby’s airways as they can. The sooner they are able to rid the baby’s lungs of meconium, the lower the effects may be. To do this, doctors may use a tube to suction out the mouth, nose, and throat.
Birth Injury Lawyers Fighting for Victims of Meconium Aspiration
Once parents understand how dangerous meconium aspiration is and the effects it can have on a child, it is natural to expect the doctors overseeing a birth to do all they can to prevent it. Yet, many babies still develop this syndrome.
If your baby suffered from the effects of meconium aspiration and you believe your doctor could have prevented it, you may have a medical malpractice case. Here at the Birth Injury Lawyers Group, our attorneys have made it their goal to help victims navigate through circumstances like these. Medical malpractice is the cause of a great deal of pain, and our attorneys are here to pursue justice in these cases.
Our attorneys can assist you in exploring your legal options after reviewing the details of your case. If you retain our services, we can oversee your legal proceedings from start to finish, allowing you to spend your energy taking care of your family.
To get started with your free case review and consultation, contact a representative at the Birth Injury Lawyers Group today at (800) 222-9529.