Meconium Aspiration Syndrome (MAS) Birth Injuries in Ireland

What is Meconium Aspiration Syndrome?

Meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS) is the aspiration of stained amniotic fluid, which can occur before, during, or immediately after birth.

Most cases of MAS derive from the fact that the baby suffered some form of foetal distress during labour. When babies are not getting an adequate supply of blood and oxygen, their bodies are thought to respond to the stress by expelling meconium.

Being aware of the complications that can ensue following foetal distress, doctors must carefully monitor the health of the baby during the labour process. The most important method of monitoring foetal health is believed to be foetal monitoring in order to identify a complication as soon as possible.

Meconium is the first intestinal discharge from newborns, a viscous, dark-green substance composed of intestinal epithelial cells, lanugo, mucus, and intestinal secretions (bile).

Intrauterine distress can cause passage of meconium into the amniotic fluid.

Factors that promote the passage of meconium in utero include:-

  • placental insufficiency,
  • maternal hypertension,
  • preeclampsia,
  • oligohydramnios,
  • infection,
  • acidosis,
  • and maternal drug abuse, especially use of tobacco and cocaine.

As noted above, meconium-stained amniotic fluid may be aspirated before or during labour and delivery.

Because meconium is rarely found in the amniotic fluid prior to 34 weeks’ gestation, meconium aspiration primarily affects infants born at term and post-term.

What are the effects of meconium aspiration for a newborn baby?

Most infants with meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS) have complete recovery of pulmonary function; however, MAS infants have a slightly increased incidence of respiratory infections in the first year of life because the lungs are still in recovery.

It is very important that the medical staff attending on the birth of your baby are fully aware of the potential signs for meconium aspiration, and be equipped and prepared to handle it quickly and efficiently.

MAS is one of the leading causes of severe birth injuries in newborn babies, and it occurs in about 5 – 10 % of births.

Severely affected infants have an increased risk of developing reactive airway disease (RAD) in the first 6 months of life. Reactive airway disease is a group of conditions that generally result in wheezing.  Conditions within this group include asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and viral upper respiratory infections.

Children with MAS may develop chronic lung disease from intense pulmonary intervention, or various other long-term neurological issues.  Failure to properly manage meconium aspiration during the birthing process can cause the baby to experience serious health issues including:-

  • central nervous system (CNS) damage,
  • respiratory distress,
  • seizures,
  • hypoxic ischemic encephalpathy (HIE),
  • and cerebral palsy.

If your baby has suffered as the result of meconium aspiration syndrome during labour, this is a very traumatic and distressing time for you and your family.  Our medical negligence and birth injury solicitors can discuss your case in confidence with you to see if we can assist you at this difficult time.

Contact our medical negligence solicitors on 01-5313800 or FREEphone 1800-844104 to speak to one of our birth injury solicitors.


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