When a baby aspirates meconium, it affects the lungs with varying degrees of severity. The main effects involve trouble breathing, either from lack of air or from air getting trapped in the lungs. The symptoms may be mild and easily treatable or become so acute that they ultimately lead to death.
To fully understand what happens when a baby has meconium aspiration, it is necessary to learn what meconium is and how meconium aspiration occurs. Meconium refers to the first feces newborns release. It is characteristically viscous and green in color. Meconium aspiration transpires when the newborn expels their initial stool while still in the womb, where it combines with the amniotic fluid. The baby may inhale this mixture with their first breaths.
The presence of feces in the lungs can become the origin of many health risks. The baby’s lungs may begin to swell from irritation in response to the meconium. When the lungs become inflamed, the baby may begin to experience difficulty breathing. If the infant does not receive proper treatment, asphyxiation may result.
Certain dangerous infections can also occur from meconium aspiration. Due to the danger associated with this syndrome, it is imperative to know what to look out for when meconium aspiration is suspected.
For a free legal consultation, call 1-800-222-9529
Detecting Meconium Aspiration in Newborns
The first sign that meconium aspiration may occur or has already occurred has to do with the amniotic fluid. If the fluid appears green, then it is likely that the infant released meconium in the womb. Medical professionals refer to this method of detection as meconium staining.
According to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, only about 11% of cases involving meconium staining will result in meconium aspiration syndrome. There are a few other methods doctors may employ to diagnose meconium aspiration, such as the following:
- Performing a blood gas analysis that looks for low acidity in the blood, raised levels of carbon dioxide, and low measures of oxygen
- After observing meconium staining in the amniotic fluid, doctors can use a laryngoscope to inspect the baby’s vocal cords for traces of meconium
- Using a fetal monitor to detect a lower heart rate before the delivery of the baby
- Examining the lungs via chest x-rays
In addition, there are several symptoms that parents can look out for that may indicate meconium aspiration, including if the baby:
- Appears limp after birth.
- Has a blue tint in the skin.
- Struggles to breathe.
- Has bloating in the chest area.
Birth Injury Lawyer Near Me 1-800-222-9529
Meconium Aspiration Treatments
Physicians must be ready to quickly and thoroughly remove as much meconium from the baby’s airways as possible to prevent further complications. Many treatments can work in tandem to treat the condition, including:
- Using a breathing machine to maintain inflation in the lungs.
- Suctioning the nose, mouth, and throat.
- Regulating the baby’s body temperature with warmers.
- Loosening the affected mucous with repeated taps to the chest.
- Prescribing antibiotics.
Preventing Meconium Aspiration Syndrome
Doctors are unsure of why some infants release meconium in the womb, and others do not. Some indications point to pre-labor stress as the cause. In this regard, reducing the mother’s stress and blood pressure levels as much as possible during pregnancy may help. While doing so has shown an ability to protect the baby to some degree, meconium aspiration syndrome can still occur in babies with healthy mothers.
Once a baby releases meconium, there are certain preventative steps physicians can take that may keep the infant from inhaling it upon birth. Namely, they should check the amniotic fluid for the presence of meconium as labor begins. If some is present, the doctor may perform an amnioinfusion to flush the meconium out of the womb before labor continues.
Complete a Free Case Evaluation form now
Birth Injury Lawyers Fighting for Victims of Meconium Aspiration
What happens when a baby aspirated meconium can have lasting effects. An infant who develops meconium aspiration syndrome may experience difficulty breathing, inflamed lungs, and other symptoms that can lead to further complications and even death.
Here at the Birth Injury Lawyers Group, our attorneys have spent years dedicating themselves to fighting for victims of medical malpractice. If your doctor failed to check for meconium in your amniotic fluid or did not take the necessary steps after your baby inhaled meconium, you may have a case.
In this stressful time, you have your family to take care of. The Birth Injury Lawyers Group can handle the entirety of your legal proceedings if that is what you need. We can offer legal advice, work on settlement negotiations, investigate your case to help prove liability, and more.
To get started with your free case review and consultation today, contact a representative at the Birth Injury Lawyers Group at (800) 222-9529.