The first stool that a child passes is known as meconium. This fecal matter is usually thick and sticky, and while it is usually passed after the child is born, there are some cases where it may be passed either before or during labor. When this occurs, the child may be at risk of meconium aspiration, in which the fecal matter is breathed into his or her lungs. This can lead to serious birth injuries that may affect a child’s health and well-being both immediately after birth and in the years to come.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Meconium Aspiration Syndrome
When meconium is breathed into the lungs, it can block the airways, or it may coat the air sacs in the lungs, affecting the child’s ability to absorb oxygen into the bloodstream. This can lead to asphyxia, and if the oxygen supply to the child’s brain is interrupted, he or she may experience brain damage and conditions such as cerebral palsy. Blocked airways can also cause the child’s lungs to overexpand and rupture or collapse. Meconium aspiration may also lead to infections that can have a variety of long-term effects.
In many cases, meconium aspiration occurs because of fetal distress during labor and delivery. If meconium is present in the amniotic fluid, or if fetal monitoring shows a slowed heart rate, these may be signs of meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS). Other symptoms of MAS that may be observed after delivery include respiratory distress, limpness in the child’s body, or a blue-colored skin tone, which is known as cyanosis. MAS may also be diagnosed through chest X-rays, blood gas analysis, or examining the child’s vocal cords with a laryngoscope.
If a child shows signs of meconium aspiration, suction tools may be used to remove any blockages from their airways. If necessary, a tube may be placed in the child’s windpipe to deliver oxygen, and a ventilator may be used to help the child breathe. In more serious cases, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) may be used to add oxygen to the child’s blood and remove carbon dioxide through a machine that works as an artificial lung. Nitric oxide may also be administered to improve oxygen delivery in the child’s bloodstream, and antibiotics may be administered to combat infections.
Contact Our Illinois Meconium Aspiration Injury Lawyers
During pregnancy, labor, and delivery, medical personnel should watch for signs of fetal distress that could lead to meconium aspiration syndrome. If your child has experienced birth injuries, the Birth Injury Law Alliance can help you determine whether these injuries occurred because doctors or nurses did not properly respond to fetal distress or address potential meconium aspiration. We will work with you to determine your best options for receiving financial help that will allow you to meet your child’s ongoing needs. Contact our Chicago birth injury attorneys today at 312-945-1300 to arrange a free consultation.