Birth Injury – Meconium aspiration

More than 200,000 babies are born in Florida each year, according to Florida Health. Unfortunately, some of those babies will experience complications during delivery. Meconium aspiration is one potential complication.

Meconium aspiration occurs when a newborn inhales or aspirates a mixture of amniotic fluid and meconium. Amniotic fluid is the fluid that is inside of the amniotic sac that the baby floats in. It can mix with meconium, which is the baby’s first feces. Meconium is a thick, sticky, dark green substance which the baby passes early during pregnancy inside of the mother’s womb.

When a baby inhales or aspirates meconium, the baby may be diagnosed with meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS). The inhalation of the fluid can block the child’s airway when the baby exhales, making breathing difficult.

A meconium plug could entirely block airways, while the meconium aspiration could also cause other complications including infection, chemical irritation to the lung tissue and impaired surfactant development. Surfactant helps with the proper expansion of the lungs.

Approximately 11 percent of infants suffer from some degree of MAS. The degree of meconium inhaled will impact the severity of the consequences of the syndrome.  

Treatment may include clearing the airways, oxygen therapy, antibiotics for infection and observation in a neonatal care unit. Many babies recover within a few days or a few weeks, but may remain at risk for reactive airway disease later in life. Severe infection, however, could cause complications including chronic lung conditions; hearing loss; developmental abnormalities; and death.

If a doctor fails to appropriately diagnose and treat meconium aspiration, this could give rise to a Florida medical malpractice case arising from a birth injury. A Florida malpractice lawyer can help if your child has suffered from meconium aspiration.