Meconium aspiration syndrome and HIE are serious medical conditions for a baby to experience during labor and delivery. Often, families have not heard about any of these conditions until they occur. It is then up to doctors and nurses to explain what may have happened during labor and delivery which has led to a brain injury in a baby.


In this birth injury educational article, and supporting video, I will explain from a medical legal standpoint what is meconium aspiration syndrome and HIE and why it is important for doctors and nurses to pay close attention to a baby who may be in fetal distress.




Before talking more in-depth about how a HIE diagnosis can occur, you need to understand the basics of this medical condition. HIE, or hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy is best understood if you were to break the words down into their separate meanings. Hypoxic, or hypoxia, is a word which is connected to oxygen. Ischemic, medically deals with blood. Finally, encephalopathy means a brain injury. When we put the words back together, we get a reduced level of blood and oxygen which can lead to a brain injury.


A HIE diagnosis for a child can have an impact which can vary. One of the main things to watch for if you child has an HIE diagnosis is the severity of the diagnosis. For some children, if the diagnosis is not as severe, the impact might be minimal. However, for other children who have a more severe diagnosis, the impact might create more challenges. Therefore, parents should not look at one child who has a HIE diagnosis and automatically assume that their child will be impacted in the same way. There are many factors to take into consideration.




Meconium aspiration syndrome, or MAS, can also be a serious condition at birth. In its basic form, MAS starts with the word meconium. Meconium is essentially the baby’s stool. In some cases, a baby will pass meconium either right before labor and delivery or during. The meconium may be present when the mother’s water breaks. It can be a substance that is green in color, or brownish, among other darker colors.


Some of the literature says that meconium in and of itself is not 100% proof that a baby may be in fetal distress (not tolerating a vaginal delivery) during labor and delivery. With that said, if meconium is present with other factors during labor and delivery, then problems may be occurring for the baby.


For example, if the electronic fetal heart monitor displays that the baby is having issues with its heart rate for a considerable amount of time, and meconium is present, doctors must pay close attention as to whether the baby is in distress. There can be other readings which deal with variability and deceleration patterns that can suggest distress.


MAS can lead to an HIE diagnosis because meconium can be sticky, and the substance can get into the baby’s lungs. When meconium is present, doctors will often check to see if it has gotten below the baby’s vocal cords. Failure to properly diagnose and treat MAS can lead to a baby being deprived of oxygen. Remember what I stated above about HIE and oxygen? It does not take a person to be a medical doctor to understand the need for oxygen as humans. In some cases, meconium can deprive a baby of oxygen and start him or her down the path to an HIE diagnosis.




If your baby has been diagnosed with MAS and HIE and you would like an investigation done into whether the doctors and nurses missed the condition and my doing so, failed to properly treat it, this is what I invite you to do. Pick up the phone and call me. I talk with families all the time about MAS, HIE, CP (cerebral palsy) and I would be happy to listen to your story.


I can be reached at 301-850-4832.


Marcus B. Boston, Esq.

Boston Law Group, LLC

2 Wisconsin Circle, Suite 700

Chevy Chase, Maryland 20815


1-833-4 BABY HELP

Marcus Boston is a Maryland medical malpractice attorney who helps people navigate the Maryland childbirth injury and medical malpractice process to get money for their injuries caused by the carelessness of doctors and hospitals. BLG handles cases in Prince George’s County, Baltimore City, Montgomery County, Howard County, Anne Arundel County, and all other Maryland Counties.