The birth of a child is a time of joy and hope. It is hard to imagine that the leading cause of illness and death for newborns is their inability to breathe when they first come into this world. This health problem occurs when the baby’s first stool or meconium passes into the amniotic fluid during labor and delivery. Unfortunately, meconium aspiration birth injuries occur in about five to ten percent of all births.
Detecting the Problem
Meconium is the stool passed by a newborn after birth before they begin feeding. Sometimes, the baby passes meconium while inside the womb. When the baby inhales or aspirates this fluid into the lungs it makes breathing very difficult. It is known as meconium aspiration syndrome. The meconium can block the infant’s airways because the baby’s lungs swell up. Low-birth babies or those delivered past their term face the greatest risk. The birth and delivery team should also know that if the mother has diabetes or high blood pressure the risk factors are even greater. Here are some ways medical staff can look for meconium aspiration:
- Spot greenish or dark streaks in the amniotic fluid.
- Use a fetal monitor to keep an eye on a slow heart rate.
- A chest x-ray can show patchy areas on the lungs.
- A laryngoscope can check for meconium stains on the vocal cords
- Abnormal breathing including coarse sounds can be heard through a stethoscope.
- A blood gas analysis is to check for low oxygen and acidity in the blood.
The baby should be placed in intensive care. Antibiotics to fight infection and machines that keep the baby’s lungs inflated are often necessary.
After a Diagnosis
In severe cases, an infant with aspiration may need a breathing machine. The lack of oxygen and complications of meconium aspiration could lead to brain damage. Unfortunately, babies who are severely impacted could develop chronic lung disease, have hearing loss, or die. At Schwartz Injury Law we have successfully represented families during this difficult time and recently obtained $19.2 million for the wrongful death of a child related to meconium aspiration. If you plan to file a birth injury claim, you must do so within eight years of your child’s injury, and before their 22nd birthday.
Contact a Cook County Birth Injury Lawyer
If your baby developed health problems due to medical procedures related to meconium aspiration call 708-888-2160 for a free consultation. At Schwartz Injury Law we are committed to holding medical professionals responsible for birth injuries your child may have sustained. Contact one of our Joliet birth injuries attorneys so that we can help your family recover after such a devastating loss.