If, prior to or during delivery, a baby is allowed to breath fecal matter into its lungs, several significant injuries, and potentially death, may occur as a result.
The first fecal matter discharged by a baby is called meconium, and is produced in the baby’s intestines while in the womb. Usually, this material is first discharged after delivery during the baby’s first feeding. However, meconium is sometimes passed from the fetus into the mother’s amniotic fluid before or during delivery, covering the baby and potentially leading to its inhalation into the baby’s lungs. When this happens, it is referred to as Meconium Aspiration Syndrome.
The problems that may occur as a result of the baby inhaling meconium include:
- blocking air from reaching the lungs;
- preventing air in the lungs from being expelled;
- accumulation of air around the lungs (pneumothorax);
- lung inflammation (pneumonitis); and
- persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN).
Additionally, if the respiratory distress caused by the meconium is not addressed quickly, it can lead to severe brain injury or other neurological conditions including cerebral palsy. If it is apparent at delivery that meconium is present on the baby, immediate measures need to be taken to eliminate or minimize the potential damage that can be caused as a result. Such actions include:
- Suctioning the infant’s nose and mouth to remove the meconium;
- Positive Pressure Ventilation (PPV) or using what is called a “bag” to force oxygen into the baby’s lungs during an emergency situation
- Intubation, or placing a tube into the baby’s mouth and into the trachea, to maintain an open airway;
Even minimal delay in taking such steps, or doing them improperly, can cause catastrophic damage, and the failure to adequately or promptly address the presence of meconium during delivery might constitute medical malpractice. If you have concerns about whether injuries to your child may have occurred as a result of meconium present before or during delivery, you should consult with an experienced birth injury attorney to discuss your situation.
James Nugent: Connecticut Birth Injury and Medical Malpractice Lawyer
If you believe your child suffered from a medical error during labor or delivery, or even if you are unsure if such an error occurred, please call me today at (203) 795-1111 for a free consultation to discuss your situation. Together, we will figure out what happened, what we can do, and how we can take every possible step to bring you the comfort and compensation that can aid in your child’s recovery.