Meconium aspiration syndrome, or MAS, occurs when an infant aspirates (inhales, breathes in) a mixture of meconium and amniotic fluid before, during, or after labor and delivery. Sticky and dark green, meconium is a baby’s first bowel movement.
The baby usually passes meconium within the first day after birth. In some cases, however, meconium may pass before or during labor, which can place the baby at risk of meconium aspiration syndrome.
Did your son or daughter experience meconium aspiration syndrome at birth? You may have a number of questions about whether this could have been prevented, whether it was timely identified, and whether you may be able to pursue financial compensation for your child’s care.
Maryland meconium aspiration lawyer Michael H. Bereston offers a free initial consultation to talk to you about your potential claim. He will be honest and straightforward, offering the caring support you need.
What Causes Meconium Aspiration?
Approximately 6-25% of newborns have meconium-stained amniotic fluid, but only about 11% of these will experience meconium aspiration. Most often, it is related to fetal stress. For example, if a baby experiences the stress from of a lack of oxygen, this can increase intestinal activity and relax the sphincter, leading to the early passage of meconium in the womb. If the baby then gasps while in the womb or with his or her initial breaths after delivery, meconium may be inhaled.
The following risk factors are associated with meconium aspiration syndrome:
- Prolonged labor
- Maternal hypertension
- Placental insufficiency
- Long and difficult delivery
- Postmaturity (when a baby is born after 40 weeks)
- Cigarette smoking and drug abuse especially cocaine use
- Umbilical cord compression or other cord complications
Consequences of Meconium Aspiration Syndrome
Meconium aspiration poses specific risks. Meconium can block the airways leading to a lack of oxygen, infection, and lung irritation. Treatment may include oxygen therapy, antibiotics, nitric oxide inhalation, and surfactant, which lowers the surface tension of a liquid and can help clear meconium.
Even when meconium aspiration occurs, there are specific steps your doctor can take to help your child. An early diagnosis and proper treatment are necessary to avoid further problems. If a doctor or nurse provides substandard care, misdiagnoses meconium aspiration, or delays treatment, you may have grounds for a case. Make sure you work with a competent Maryland meconium aspiration attorney.