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Meconium aspiration syndrome is a serious condition where a new-born breathes in a mixture of meconium and amniotic fluid during childbirth.

If your child's life has been affected by meconium aspiration syndrome, we can help. If your injuries were caused by the negligence of a doctor, nurse, midwife or other medical professional, you may be entitled to claim compensation.

You can make a No Win, No Fee compensation claim with the help and support of a specialist clinical negligence solicitor.

What is meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS)?

Meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS) is a respiratory distress that occurs when a new-born baby inhales meconium mixed with amniotic fluid into the lungs before, during, or shortly after birth. (source: bmj.com)

Meconium is the baby's first stool, which is usually passed after birth, but sometimes it is released into the amniotic fluid during labour or when under stress. If the baby breathes in this mixture, it can partially or completely block the airways, causing breathing difficulties.

The inhaled meconium can irritate the baby's airways and lungs, leading to swelling and reduced air exchange. This can result in respiratory distress, decreased oxygen levels, and in severe cases, lung infection or pulmonary hypertension. MAS is more likely to occur in full-term or post-term babies, particularly those under stress during the birthing process.

With over 1,000 birth and pregnancy negligence claims each year, you are not alone

1,134 birth and pregnancy negligence claims were received by NHS Resolution in 2022-23 (resolution.nhs.uk).

Given the nature of the condition, it is unlikely that a healthcare worker's negligence would be the cause of meconium aspiration syndrome.

However, it may be possible to make a clinical negligence claim if the syndrome is not promptly identified and treated to an acceptable standard of care.

Do I qualify for meconium aspiration syndrome compensation?

To claim compensation for medical negligence, your solicitor must prove that:

  • you received care that was below the professionally acceptable level, and
  • as a result, you experienced harm.

Use our injury claim calculator to find out if you can claim. Alternatively, you can speak to a claims advisor on 0800 376 1001 and find out if you have a claim in minutes.

How long do I have to claim meconium aspiration syndrome compensation?

For a meconium aspiration syndrome claim, you usually have 3 years to make a claim from the date you became aware that the harm you suffered was caused by substandard treatment (date of knowledge).

How much compensation can I claim for a meconium aspiration syndrome?

The amount of money you could claim for your injury will depend on:

  • the seriousness of your injury, and
  • any financial losses or costs you have incurred.

At the start of your claim, your solicitor will consider the many ways your injuries have affected your life. Your solicitor will take these considerations into account to calculate the correct compensation award.

Meconium aspiration syndrome compensation calculator

Get an accurate compensation estimate (including for multiple injuries), confirm your legal position, and check if you have a No Win, No Fee claim.

Updated April 2024 Compensation Calculator v3.04

General damages

General damages are awarded for pain, suffering and loss of amenity (PSLA).

Awards for general damages are set by the Judicial College (judiciary.uk) and published in their guidelines for personal injury awards.

How is compensation calculated if I have multiple injuries?

Special damages

Special damages are for financial losses and expenses you have incurred because of your accident. In addition to paying for loss of earnings, special damages can cover any care costs and medical procedures you need, such as diagnostic blood tests, medication and pain management treatments.

Read more:

A complete list of recoverable losses in a personal injury claim

Can MAS be prevented?

Although rare, there is no way to prevent meconium aspiration from occurring and all new-born babies are technically at risk.

Healthcare professionals have identified that babies may have an increased risk of MAS if the mother has diabetes or high blood pressure. The risk is also greater when the baby is overdue or the labour is particularly long.

What are the signs or symptoms of MAS?

The first sign that meconium may have been passed is usually the colour of the amniotic fluid. Instead of being clear and watery, the fluid may be stained blue-green or yellowish. It may also be thicker in consistency.

It may be also possible for the midwife or obstetrician to detect an infant's lower heart rate before delivery, indicating the baby may have inhaled meconium.

The baby, once delivered, may show signs of MAS. These signs may include:

  • blue discolouration of the skin, fingernails or umbilical cord,
  • breathing difficulties,
  • the baby may be limp and less responsive

Confirmation that the baby has MAS may be made by listening for lung abnormalities or by carrying out blood gas tests.

How is meconium aspiration syndrome treated?

Treatment should be immediate as delay may result in long-term respiratory problems.

An endotracheal tube may be inserted to clear the baby's upper and lower airways. The tube uses suction to remove the meconium. The baby may also need oxygen therapy and a surfactant treatment to prevent the lungs collapsing. Antibiotics may also be given.

Blood tests (for oxygen levels) and X-rays should be performed to ensure the lungs have been sufficiently cleared and that the baby is getting enough oxygen into his system.

Can there be complications?

Children who inhaled meconium before or during birth may be susceptible to other chest conditions if they have sustained respiratory damage through MAS. These conditions include asthma and other breathing difficulties and chest infections. If the baby has been exposed to high levels of meconium he may have permanent lung damage.

Failure to treat MAS appropriately may deprive a baby of oxygen, leading in extreme cases to permanent, significant brain damage or death.

Making a clinical negligence claim for MAS

Meconium aspiration syndrome should be an easily-identifiable condition in most cases.

If your child has sustained respiratory illness or other conditions through undiagnosed or untreated MAS, you may be able to bring a claim for negligence against the healthcare professionals involved with the baby's birth.

Any illness or condition arising from the syndrome may not be immediately evident. A person who was affected by MAS during their own birth may bring a claim up to 3 years after his or her 18th birthday. Alternatively, a parent or guardian may make a claim on an affected child's behalf before this date.

Clinical negligence claims

Meconium aspiration syndrome injuries are usually categorised as clinical negligence. Click on the icon below for more information.

No win, no fee meconium aspiration syndrome compensation claims

With no win, no fee, you can claim meconium aspiration syndrome compensation without financial risk. If your claim isn't successful, you pay nothing. If you win, you only pay a pre-agreed percentage of your compensation.

Find out more about how no win, no fee claims work

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Jenny Jones, Senior litigator

Author:
Jenny Jones, Senior litigator