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The Risks of Meconium Asphyxiation

Many things can go wrong during the delivery of a child. Experts advocate for prenatal care to decrease the likelihood of injury to the mother and the baby. But sometimes, even a healthy pregnancy results in a difficult birthing process. When this occurs, the medical staff’s actions are essential to promoting the health of the infant. They must recognize the symptoms of potential conditions and act accordingly to decrease the possibility of further damage.

According to the National Institute of Health, meconium is the fecal matter passed by a newborn soon after birth. When babies experience stress inside the womb, they often pass meconium into the uterus. The matter mixes into the amniotic fluid that surrounds the baby, creating a potentially dangerous situation. The infant may breathe in the meconium while still inside the womb or directly after the birth before the amniotic fluid is wiped away. Once this substance enters the lungs, it can cause the infant’s lungs to swell, blocking the airway. This is called meconium aspiration
Prior to the actual time of birth, there are warning signs that should alert the physician about the possibility of meconium aspiration.

***Prolonged Pregnancy – When a pregnancy continues past the due date, the health of the womb begins to deteriorate. The placenta ages and weakens. The infant’s waste is usually eliminated through the placenta, so when it weakens, the meconium can escape into the uterus.

***Decreased oxygen to the infant while inside the uterus

***A diagnosis of diabetes in the pregnant mother

***Difficult labor with a prolonged labor – Extended labor also weakens the health of the uterus and placenta, increasing the risk of meconium entering the amniotic fluid

***A diagnosis of high blood pressure in the pregnant mother

The Doctor’s Responsibility

At birth, the attending medical staff should look for symptoms like bluish tint, body limpness or breathing irregularities. If any of these conditions are present, there are numerous tests and treatments that the doctor can administer:

***The fetal monitor should be regularly reviewed for any signs of distress in the baby

***A blood gas analysis tests for low blood pH, decreased oxygen or an increase in carbon dioxide

If complications are identified, the physician may:

***Administer antibiotics to fight any infection within the infant’s body

***Place the infant on a breathing machine to clear the airways

***Administer oxygen to promote and maintain normal blood levels

***Place the infant into a warming machine to promote a healthy body temperature

While meconium asphyxiation rarely leads to permanent lung damage, when the attending medical staff does not take adequate measures to identify and treat the condition, serious health problems may develop. If the airway is not cleared completely, adequate oxygen does not reach the brain. This can potentially lead to permanent brain damage.

If your newborn suffered from meconium asphyxiation and you believe that the medical staff did not respond appropriately, contact the experienced birth injury attorneys of Levin & Perconti today at (877) 374-1417 for a free consultation.

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