Meconium Aspiration Syndrome

Giving birth can be a scary and anxious time on its own but, with the correct medical treatment, even the most serious problems can often be rectified. However, when complications are not treated correctly, or are even caused by medical negligence, the effects can be devastating.

One such complication it is crucial for both new mums and medical stuff to be aware of is Meconium Aspiration Syndrome. Classified as the accidental inhalation of stool in the amniotic fluid, MAS can cause oxygen deprivation that can lead to serious ongoing problems in a child’s life.

Meconium Aspiration Syndrome

What is MAS?

Meconium is the first stool of a baby and is made up of materials they have ingested while still in the womb. Normally, meconium is stored in the child’s digestive tract until after birth but stress or shock before or during labour can cause this material to be expelled into the amniotic fluid where it is then inhaled. Inhalation of contaminated fluid can then cause blockages in the lungs and oxygen deprivation, which can in turn lead to serious conditions such as cerebral palsy or learning difficulties.

Who is at risk?

MAS occurs in only 5-10% of births so is considered rare but some risk factors include overdue births, preeclampsia, a difficult labour, drug abuse by the mother or gestational diabetes.

What are the signs and symptoms?

Before birth, MAS can be signified by an unusually high or low heart rate in the baby. After birth, other signs are green or yellow amniotic fluid, a barrel chest, trouble breathing, a low Apgar score, or green-stained skin, nail beds or umbilical cord.

How is it treated?

If a mother and baby are deemed to be at risk of MAS, medical staff must conduct constant fetal monitoring. Stethoscopes can be used to detect difficulty breathing, blood tests can show low oxygen or high carbon dioxide levels and x-rays can tell medical teams whether a baby’s lungs show any abnormal symptoms such as blockages, over-inflation or collapse.

If MAS is detected, doctors and nurses must work quickly to restore oxygen supply and blood flow. This can include the clearing of airways, oxygen supplementation, assisted breathing or medicinal treatments such as steroids or nitric oxide.

If medical staff fail to detect or treat MAS in time, the resulting oxygen deprivation can cause anything from HIE (a type of asphyxiation) to seizures, brain damage and ongoing conditions that will continue to affect a child throughout its life.

My baby has suffered complications as a result of MAS, what can I do?

If your baby is suffering as a result of MAS not being detected or treated on time, there is a chance that you might be entitled to compensation that will be vital to helping you and your baby get the care you need. The first thing to know is that you will not be alone in this process; at First4seriousinjury we pride ourselves on caring for and supporting our clients through what can be a difficult and stressful time. Our award-winning friendly and efficient team will help you work out whether you’re entitled to compensation, as well as guiding you through the claims process if you are. We also aim to take some of the stress of the process away by offering a simple, no-obligation service and a no win, no fee agreement.

If you think your baby was misdiagnosed or treated incorrectly, please do contact us on our website or on 0808 301 5107 so that we can help you and your little one move on with the compensation you’re entitled to.

Photo Credit: flickr.com

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