1 (440) 442-6677


Get Legal Help

Did Your Newborn Suffer Cerebral
Palsy or Another Brain Injury Before
or During Labor and Delivery?

Learn More

Our Birth Brain Injury Resource Guide

the guide

Get a FREE guide of resources available throughout Ohio to children and families of children who were born with brain injuries.

Our guide can help you build a foundation of knowledge and tools that will help you help your child
now and in the future.

Get Your Free Guide Now
Get a Free Case Evaluation

Meconium Aspiration – Risk Factors

Meconium aspiration refers to the ingestion of meconium – a fetus or baby’s first fecal matter – into the lungs or respiratory system of the fetus or infant.

Get A 100% Free CASE Evaluation     
This can cause various respiratory, neurological and cardiovascular complications in rare and extreme cases. There are a number of risk factors that make it more likely that your fetus or infant will ingest meconium, including but not limited to the following.

Meconium is a greenish liquid that is essentially a baby’s first fecal matter. It does not develop in a fetus until about 35 weeks of age because the fetus’s digestive system is not yet mature enough to produce it until then. Also, the mechanisms by which the meconium is released through the anal cavity and then ingested into the respiratory system do not develop until after the 35th week of gestation. As such, this is rare in premature babies. However, babies that are at term or overdue are more likely to release and aspirate this fecal matter.

Elk & Elk
Another reason that babies that are born past term are more susceptible to aspirate meconium is because, once they are in the womb for 40 weeks or more, there is more of a likelihood that the placenta will “age” and be less effective at providing the infant with oxygen. The baby is then more likely to experience the distress that can trigger the gasping reflex which allows meconium to enter the respiratory system.

Similarly, any issues with the umbilical cord (such as if it is squeezed or caught between the uterine wall and the fetus) can impede delivery of oxygen to the baby and trigger this type of aspiration. An infection in utero or during delivery can also create it.

Because distress generally is a cause of meconium aspiration, a difficult labor is can create such stress. As such, any issues such as a baby born in the breech position or with the umbilical cord wrapped around its neck put the infant at a higher risk.

Gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, or any respiratory issues experienced by the mother can also make it more difficult for oxygen to reach the fetus. This, again, creates the conditions of distress that increase the chances for the infant to release and aspirate meconium in the womb. For similar reasons, smoking is also a risk factor, and studies have found that infants whose mothers abused drugs (specifically, cocaine) were at a higher risk as well.