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A newborn baby may suffer from meconium aspiration syndrome if they breathed in a mixture of meconium and amniotic fluid into their lungs when their mother was in labor or delivery. Their intestines contain meconium, which is a sterile, dark green substance. It is the first feces that a newborn has.
Meconium aspiration syndrome is one of the leading causes of illness or death in newborns. It happens in 5% to 10% of births, usually when the fetus is stressed during the labor process because there are low oxygen levels or an infection. It is more prevalent when the baby is past its due date. Most newborns that go through this will survive, but it can be fatal. The complication rate is 1.2% in the United States.
Following delivery, the aspirated meconium might block the baby’s airways. Then, regions of the lungs could potentially collapse. Airways may only be partially blocked, which means that air can reach parts of the lung that are beyond the blockage. However, the baby will not be able to breathe it out. The lung may over-expand, rupture, and eventually collapse. Air could then accumulate in the chest cavity and around the lung.
Symptoms of Meconium Aspiration Syndrome
If a baby has meconium aspiration syndrome, then they may experience the following symptoms:
- They have breathing issues
- They go limp at birth
- They have a bluish skin color
Before birth, the doctor may see a slow heart rate on the fetal monitor, and then they will notice meconium in the amniotic fluid. A chest X-ray might show streaky or patchy areas on the baby’s lungs, and a blood gas analysis may display increased carbon monoxide, decreased oxygen, and low blood activity. The doctor might hear coarse and crackly breathing sounds when they hold a stethoscope up to your baby as well.
A baby may suffer from a birth injury if they have meconium aspiration syndrome. Some of the birth injuries that could result from this condition include:
- Permanent lung damage
- Cerebral palsy
- Brain damage
- Central nervous system problems
In extreme cases, a baby could die from it.
Treatment for Meconium Aspiration Syndrome
If a doctor diagnoses a baby with meconium aspiration syndrome, then they can begin treatment. This will include:
- Putting a tube in the baby’s windpipe and then suctioning out the meconium
- Tapping on the baby’s chest to loosen the secretion
- Putting them on a breathing machine to ensure the lungs are inflated
- Using a warmer to keep the baby’s body temperature normal
The case of meconium aspiration syndrome may be so serious that a baby needs to be admitted into the NICU, or the neonatal intensive care unit.
Most of the time, with treatment, a baby can recover and there won’t be any side effects. Sometimes, a baby may have breathing problems that may take a few days to subside. Babies that have a severe case could be at risk of having reactive airway disease in the first six months after birth. Rarely will this condition cause permanent lung damage in a baby.
How Do I Know if Medical Malpractice Caused Meconium Aspiration Syndrome?
Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor or another healthcare professional does not uphold the standard of care they are supposed to provide. If they are negligent and this negligence causes injury to your child, then you may have a case.
Typically, medical malpractice would apply when it comes to meconium aspiration syndrome if the doctor failed to diagnose the condition and/or they didn’t take the proper actions to treat it. If the doctors did not provide neonatal care and monitoring, and the baby has delayed complications from this condition, then medical malpractice could be a factor in a baby’s injury.
Medical malpractice cases can be hard to prove. The legal system makes it complicated so that people won’t sue doctors all the time. You need the right evidence in order to make a compelling argument. Without the help of a birth injury lawyer, it’s going to be impossible to get a medical malpractice case through.
How Much Will I Receive From a Meconium Aspiration Syndrome Settlement?
When you call a birth injury lawyer, they will calculate the applicable damages for you, which could include:
- Medical bills
- Loss of companionship and enjoyment of life
- Pain and suffering
- Future medical care
- Loss of earning capacity
The amount of your damages will be higher if your bills, expenses, and non-economic damages like pain and suffering are higher. If your baby’s meconium aspiration syndrome is treatable in the hospital right after birth and there are no other complications, then your settlement is likely to be lower. If your baby needs to be admitted into the NICU, or they’re going to have lifelong injuries, your economic and non-economic damages would be higher. That means your settlement could be higher, too.
Settlement Offers in a Meconium Aspiration Syndrome Case
The way a settlement would work is that you’d contact a birth injury lawyer and tell them about what you experienced as well as your baby’s injuries. They will ask you if you have evidence like witness statements, medical records, and photos of your baby’s injury. Your lawyer will tell you if they believe the evidence is satisfactory and could be used to prove medical malpractice.
They will approach the defendant – your doctor or another medical professional you think was responsible – and present them with the proof. Then, your lawyer will attempt to negotiate a settlement. A few things could happen: The defendant may settle, try to settle for a lower amount, or reject settling all together.
Oftentimes, defendants will settle if the evidence is strong enough so that they don’t have to go to court. Court is typically more expensive and could result in higher damages as well as a negative impact on their reputation. If they do decide to settle and you think it isn’t enough, then your lawyer will be happy to renegotiate for you.
Why Reach Out to a Birth Injury Lawyer?
A birth injury lawyer will save you time and energy. They can let you know if they think medical malpractice applies in your case and they’ll work hard to get you the settlement you deserve. You can focus on your baby’s health, which is critical at this juncture.
Meconium Aspiration Syndrome Birth Injury Attorneys
If you’re ready to pursue your meconium aspiration syndrome birth injury case, then call Gilman & Bedigian today. We’ll fight for you so that you can get the settlement you need to move on with your life.
Contact Gilman & Bedigian 24/7 for a free consultation at (800) 529-6162.