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Meconium aspiration syndrome is a common birth injury

Unfortunately, many different problems can arise during the birthing process to place newborn infants at risk of birth injuries or death. One of the most common conditions newborns suffer is meconium aspiration syndrome, or MAS.

Meconium is the first stool of a newborn and is passed before the infant begins to take in breast milk or formula. When the baby passes meconium after delivery, it typically does not cause any health concerns. However, sometimes an infant will pass the substance before delivery causing it to mix with the amniotic fluid and possibly enter the baby's lungs. In most cases, this happens if the baby is experiencing fetal distress. Factors that could cause this distress include:

  • It is far past the delivery due date
  • The mother suffers from diabetes or high blood pressure
  • Labor is significantly long or difficult
  • The infant is not getting enough oxygen

Because meconium is a thick, sticky substance, it may block the infant's airway, making it difficult or impossible to breathe. It can also cause infection in the baby's lungs and could lead to brain damage from lack of oxygen. Without an accurate diagnosis and immediate treatment, severe birth injuries or death might occur.

As you might expect, a doctor may be helpless to stop meconium from entering the infant's lungs. However, with careful monitoring before, during and immediately after delivery, a doctor can prevent serious injury from occurring.

It is safe to assume that MAS is a condition that obstetrics and gynecology doctors in Boston understand well. If a doctor fails to monitor for this condition and an infant suffers a birth injury, the parents may wish to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit based on negligence. A legal professional can guide parents through this difficult time and offer advice on how to proceed with such a claim.

Source: Johns Hopkins Medicine, "Meconium Aspiration Syndrome," accessed June 14, 2018

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