Meconium Aspiration Syndrome Cause of Birth Injuries or Death

When parents prepare for the birth of their baby they anticipate joy and delight. Sometimes, however, a family is left saddened and in disbelief after their baby suffers an injury during birth. Birth injuries occur in up to about 6 out of every 1,000 births in the United States. There are a number of different types of injuries that may occur. One of the most serious injuries is meconium aspiration syndrome. Meconium aspiration syndrome, MAS, happens when the baby breathes in some of the amniotic fluid before or during labor or delivery.

About Meconuim Aspiration Syndrome

MAS is a very serious problem that occurs in up to approximately 10% of all births. Meconium is a substance that consists of the first fecal matter, sometimes mixed with amniotic fluid. The baby can breathe this substance into his lungs. When someone breathes fluid into the lungs it is called aspiration. Aspiration of meconium can cause severe birth injuries or even death. It most often occurs when the baby is under stress during the labor or delivery process.

Causes of Meconium Aspiration Syndrome

Babies who are under stress during labor or birth are more likely to suffer from MAS. The baby is not supposed to begin breathing until it is out of the womb. Also, the baby does not usually defecate until after birth. However, if the baby is under stress due to a long or complicated birth, the baby may defecate and may breathe. If so, it will breathe in the fluid inside the womb, which may contain fecal matter. This substance enters the lungs and causes oxygen deprivation to occur. If this happens, the infant could likely suffer permanent brain damage due to asphyxia.


Asphyxia is the lack of oxygen to the vital organs of the body, including the brain. When an infant experiences asphyxia it is a medical emergency and action must be taken immediately. Just a couple of minutes without oxygen will result in damage to the baby’s brain function, which is a permanent disability. Sadly, those who suffer severe asphyxia without urgent medical treatment will likely not survive.

Preventing MAS

Doctors must properly monitor the baby and mother during labor and delivery. If a problem is noted, it must be quickly resolved. If the baby is suffering distress or when complications arise, a cesarean section may be necessary. The decision to deliver the baby by c-section may help to save the life or health of the infant. The failure to properly deliver an infant in distress could be considered a mistake or medical malpractice. Steps must be taken to monitor the baby and mother, especially if there are any other risk factors. For example, a large baby, or one that is past full term could be more at risk for a complication during delivery. Evaluation of a possible problem needs to be done quickly and action must be taken if a problem is noted. If your baby suffered MAS at birth you may be entitled to compensation. Contact the compassionate attorneys at Levin & Perconti to discuss your case today.

See Related Posts:

How Birth Injuries Are Diagnosed and Treated

Mother Filed Lawsuit after Birth Injury Caused Brain Damage to Her Newborn

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