About Birth Injuries and Meconium Aspiration

We know you want the best for your child. Call us for a free consultation at (800) 215-1003

I first began working on medical malpractice cases involving birth injuries back in the late 1990s. Over the years, cases involving hypoxic birth injury, physical birth trauma, and meconium aspiration have become a large part of my practice. As a result, I am well aware of the devastating effects that traumatic births and botched deliveries can have on children. I also understand the importance of early intervention and the lifelong therapeutic, educational, and vocational needs of children who have suffered various types of birth injuries, including meconium aspiration syndrome.

I have seen the emotional strain that this type of medical negligence causes the parents of these children, and even the effects it can have on the siblings of the child who is injured. One thing that is a common and recurring theme of all parents is that they somehow start to blame themselves for what happened. While this reaction is very human, the self-blame is almost always misplaced.

When a baby loses oxygen during birth, the injuries may not become apparent until later in life.

When trying to figure out if malpractice exists, there are a few things you should be aware of. Often times it will be obvious if a baby has suffered trauma at the time of birth. Obvious trauma is present when a baby just doesn’t appear right. For example, the color might be either very pale or dark purple, the newborn may be limp or floppy, the baby may not cry for several minutes or at all, or the baby might need to be intubated and taken to the NICU in order to receive oxygen.

Sometimes however, the damage to a newborn from birth trauma isn’t so obvious. It is well known that when a baby loses oxygen during birth, the injuries may not become apparent until later in life. The reason for this is simple, newborn babies don’t do a whole lot. Essentially, a newborn infant primarily only eats, sleeps, and messes their diapers. So unless a child has a problem feeding and needs a feeding tube, parents – and even doctors – may not be aware that the baby has been permanently injured. Many times, the first sign that there was medical malpractice during childbirth starts to become apparent when the child misses a milestone like sitting or crawling. Other times the injuries aren’t known until the child starts to exhibit developmental delays in walking or talking. Occasionally, it isn’t until several years later during the early school years that the full extent of the birth trauma becomes apparent.

Complications from Meconium Aspiration

One thing to be on the lookout for is whether there is meconium when the water breaks, or at any time before the baby is born. Meconium is the baby’s stool, or feces, and can cause significant problems if it is inhaled into the baby’s lungs. As a New York Birth Trauma Lawyer, I am well aware of how medical malpractice can cause a baby to inhale or swallow meconium, which is technically called meconium aspiration, and can deprive the baby of oxygen resulting in lasting injuries including brain damage, developmental delays, cerebral palsy, and mental retardation.

Causes of Baby Passing Meconium

The passage of meconium during birth can be caused by either physical trauma or a lack of oxygen to the baby before being born. If the meconium is then inhaled into the baby’s lungs, it can make it impossible for the newborn to get oxygen into the lungs after birth. Babies are often intubated when this happens in an effort to help deliver the much needed oxygen to the lungs and other organs including the brain. Here is a list of some of the common signs or clues that birth trauma may have occurred during labor and delivery.

Common Signs of Medical Malpractice During Birth

  • the baby’s heart rate dropped, also called heart rate decelerations
  • there were persistent late decelerations of the heart rate
  • your baby had a bowel movement – passed meconium during birth
  • there was meconium when they broke your water
  • they had you lay on your side so the baby could get oxygen
  • they had to give you oxygen during delivery
  • you noticed a decrease or lack of fetal movement
  • an emergency cesarean section was required after being in labor for many hours
  • your baby was bigger than expected
  • your child had low APGAR scores
  • your baby didn’t cry after birth or had a weak cry
  • your baby was floppy, flaccid or limp at birth
  • your baby’s color was purple, blue, pale or dusky
  • your baby had a hematoma on the head
  • your baby had a cephalohematoma or bilateral cephalohematoma
  • your baby had a fractured skull
  • your baby’s head or shoulder was stuck
  • they had to use forceps
  • the cord blood gases were low
  • your baby was “jittery” or there were infantile spasms, seizure activity, or “lip smacking”
  • your infant can’t suck or wasn’t able to bottle or breast feed
  • you suffered a third degree vaginal tear
  • your baby needed to be intubated
  • your baby was immediately taken away to the nursery or Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, which is also called the NICU or NIC-U

Common Injuries From Medical Malpractice During Birth

  • Birth Asphyxia
  • Anoxia
  • Brain Damage, also called Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Developmental Delays
  • Erbs Palsy, also called a Brachial Plexus Injury
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Hypoxia
  • Secondary Microcephaly or a small head circumference
  • Child Cannot Eat and Needs a Feeding Tube
  • Iatrogenic Prematurity
  • Swallowed Meconium
  • Mental Retardation
  • Cognitive deficits
  • Oxygen Deprivation
  • Respiratory Arrest or Distress Syndrome (RDS)
  • Seizure Disorder
  • Need for Anti-Seizure Medication
  • Shoulder Dystocia, which often results in an Erbs Palsy
  • Child has been diagnosed with PDD, pervasive development disorder
  • Special Needs and Education
  • Swallowed Meconium / Swallowed Stool / Swallowed Feces During Delivery
  • Inhaled Meconium, also called Meconium Aspiration or Meconium Aspiration Syndrome (MAS)
  • Traumatic Vacuum or Forceps Delivery
  • Subdural Hemorrhage
  • Subarachnoid Hemorrhage
  • Subgaleal Hemorrhage
  • Severe Moulding or Caput Succedaneum of the baby’s head
  • Death of the baby or mother
  • Missed Milestones
  • Small or limited vocabulary
  • Delayed in speaking, walking, talking, sitting
  • Neglects using one arm or one side of the body
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Difficulty or delay in delivering second twin

If you feel there was medical malpractice that resulted in an injury to your baby at birth, you should consult with an attorney as soon as possible. We offer 100% free consultations.

Free Consultation Helpline:
If you have any questions about whether or not you have a case, or to just speak with us and obtain more information about birth trauma related injuries, feel free to contact us through our secure website or call (212) 233-3600 or toll free at (800) 215-1003. All of our consultations are free. Thank you.