Meconium Aspiration Syndrome

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

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What is Meconium Aspiration Syndrome?

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.

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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. 

How We Can Help?

Pursuing a medical negligence claim in Ireland can be daunting, especially if you are still recovering. Our experienced team of medical negligence solicitors are on hand to give advice, and advise you of all legal remedies available to you at this stressful time. Our aim is to help you through the trauma of your experience with empathy and understanding, and to ease as much of the stress associated with medical negligence claims as possible. 

If you have sustained an injury or contracted an illness due to a situation involving medical negligence and have questions surrounding an incident, please contact our Medical Negligence Solicitors today at Coleman Legal. 

Coleman Legal can help you find out if you are eligible for a compensation. If you are eligible for compensation, we will fight for you while you recover, ensuring your best interests are met and that you receive the best settlement or Court Award that is fair to you in the entirety of the circumstances.

Diane Treanor

Senior Solicitor 
(Medical Negligence Team)

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Johanna Ryan

Senior Solicitor 
(Medical Negligence Team)

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