Hensley Cloninger & Greer, P.C. Hensley Cloninger & Greer, P.C.

What Is Meconium Aspiration Syndrome?

Meconium aspiration syndrome is a type of birth injury that causes difficulty breathing in newborns. According to Johns Hopkins University, MAS affects 5 to 10% of births as the most common cause of serious illness and death in this age group. 

Review the risks of MAS so you can act quickly if this condition affects your newborn. 

How does MAS occur?

A baby’s first bowel movement consists of a black, tarry substance called meconium. If the infant releases meconium during delivery, he or she can potentially inhale this substance along with amniotic fluid. 

What are the symptoms of MAS?

Babies affected by MAS typically have breathing problems at birth. Other symptoms include limpness, blue skin tone and visible meconium in the fluid. The health care team may detect slow breathing, abnormal heart sounds, patchy areas on a lung x-ray or decreased blood oxygen. 

Do infants recover from MAS?

When a baby has serious distress because of MAS, the doctor may admit him or her to the NICU for treatment. Care for MAS includes suctioning the airway, keeping the infant warm, inflating the lungs with a breathing machine and administering antibiotics for infection. 

Most babies who have MAS recover within a few days with prompt treatment. When the health care team does not diagnose MAS and provide the proper care, however, prolonged loss of oxygen can result in permanent disability. 

If your child experiences brain damage or other health issues after suffering MAS, you may have a medical malpractice case. In North Carolina, you have three years from the injury date to file this type of legal claim. 

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