Meconium is a baby’s first poop. It is a thick, sticky substance that some babies pass in late pregnancy, while still in the womb, although it can also be passed just after birth. A newborn can develop breathing trouble if meconium gets into their lungs; this condition is called meconium aspiration syndrome. If your baby was harmed by meconium aspiration that could have been prevented or was not diagnosed, you should consult the Upstate New York birth injury lawyers at DeFrancisco & Falgiatano. We have more than 30 years of experience pursuing damages for people in the areas around Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, and Albany.What is Meconium Aspiration?
Babies are more likely to pass meconium if they are born after their due date, they have been born in a difficult delivery, they did not grow properly prior to birth, their mothers smoked, or their mothers have medical issues. They are also more likely to pass meconium if their bodies are hit by infections or low oxygen levels. Meconium aspiration, or breathing in the meconium, can occur when a baby is stressed and gasps in the womb, sucking in amniotic fluid and meconium. It can also occur when a baby takes a first gulp of air after birth. Late in pregnancy or during delivery, meconium can get into a baby’s lungs and irritate the airways, obstruct them, damage lung tissue, or block surfactant, which is a substance that helps the lungs open once a baby is born.Liability
To establish medical malpractice liability in a birth injury lawsuit arising out of meconium aspiration, an attorney will need to show that it is more likely than not that the defendant owed the baby a professional duty of care, deviated from the professional standard of care, and caused the injuries.
In New York, the professional standard of care is the accepted medical practices used by those in the same specialty and the same geographic region. We will need to retain an expert, often a board-certified obstetrician, to provide an opinion not only on what the professional standard of care was, but also on how your provider breached it and how the breach caused damages. To recover damages, your obstetrician’s actions in connection with your baby’s meconium aspiration must have deviated from the accepted medical practices of other obstetricians in Upstate New York, and the deviation must have caused the harm.
Generally, obstetricians who fail to assess risk factors that increase the odds of meconium aspiration or who do not notice when meconium aspiration develops may be held accountable for the harm that results. When a pregnant mother who smokes goes past her due date, for example, a reasonably prudent doctor might recommend induction to prevent meconium aspiration.
Once a baby is born, doctors and nurses are supposed to be on the lookout for signs of meconium aspiration, such as limpness, green meconium stains on the baby, green amniotic fluid, green baby urine, cyanosis, low Apgar scores, and apnea. They can confirm the diagnosis through a chest X-ray, and if they fail to do so, it may be a breach of the professional standard of care.
Health care providers can also be held accountable if their failure to treat meconium aspiration properly or in a timely fashion causes birth injuries. For instance, a health care provider who fails to provide emergency resuscitation to a newborn who shows signs of needing it due to meconium aspiration may be held accountable for birth injuries.Damages
While most newborns who experience meconium aspiration recover entirely, some may suffer from increased lung infections and wheezing during their first year of life or long-term. Sometimes meconium aspiration causes pneumothorax, hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, or persistent pulmonary hypertension. If we can establish your provider’s liability for any of these birth injuries, we may be able to recover compensatory damages on your behalf.
Compensatory damages can include both economic and non-economic losses stemming from the meconium aspiration. Economic losses may include medical bills, rehabilitation, therapy, and out-of-pocket costs. Non-economic losses may include pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life. Parents can recover not only on behalf of their child but also for their own losses arising from the birth injuries.Consult a Knowledgeable Injury Attorney in Upstate New York
Most babies who experience meconium aspiration improve, but some are seriously injured. If your baby sustained birth injuries as a result of meconium aspiration, you should consult the experienced birth injury attorneys at DeFrancisco & Falgiatano. Contact us at 833-200-2000 or via our online form.