Contact us to arrange your
FREE initial consultation

Email us Call me back

On this page:

Meconium can be a warning sign that an unborn baby is not coping with the stress of labour. If aspirated (breathed in), meconium can also be a danger to the baby’s life and health.

Midwives and obstetricians must recognise and react quickly to signs, such as meconium, that the unborn baby is not getting enough oxygen during labour. The neonatal team must act quickly to clear the baby’s airway of meconium and restore the baby’s oxygen supply at birth.  Where the baby suffers a brain injury because their delivery or resuscitation are negligently delayed, the child may be entitled to compensation.

Our cerebral palsy and neonatal brain injury lawyers recover compensation for children whose brain injury and disability were caused by mistakes or delays in maternity treatment or neonatal resuscitation.

Our service to our clients includes:

  • free advice from our medical negligence solicitors
  • claims handled by Chambers Directory and Legal 500 top-rated specialist birth and neonatal injury lawyers
  • Legal Aid or ‘no-win-no-fee’ (CFA) funding for the claim, depending on what is best for the child
  • interim (advance) payments to meet urgent needs
  • maximum value compensation settlements, structured to meet our clients’ current and future needs
  • Court of Protection deputyship (where needed)
  • special educational needs (SEN) advice and support (where needed)
  • anonymity orders (where advised).

Previous Cases

Multi-million dollar settlement for a boy who suffered a hypoxic brain injury and cerebral palsy as a result of  negligent delays in his delivery. He was born with the umbilical cord around his neck, having inhaled grade III meconium. He needed resuscitation and ventilation. His compensation settlement reflected the cost of meeting his extensive needs in the country where he now lives.

£4.6 million plus lifelong payments of up to £360,000pa for a child who suffered a hypoxic brain injury and devastating disability as a result of mistakes in her mother’s maternity care. Signs of fetal distress, including a suspicious CTG trace and meconium, were ignored and fetal heart monitoring discontinued. There were negligent delays in delivery, resuscitation and ventilation.

What is meconium?

Meconium is the medical name that is given to a newborn baby’s first faeces (poo).  Meconium is dark green,  thick and sticky and contains the material that the fetus ingested in its mother’s womb. Once the baby starts feeding on colostrum and milk, its faeces become more yellow in colour.

Read more

Why is the presence of meconium significant during labour and delivery?

It is normal for a baby to pass dark green, sticky meconium in the hours immediately after birth. It is also common for the amniotic fluid, which drains from the mother in labour after her waters break, to be discoloured or ‘stained’ with meconium. 

During labour and delivery, if the amniotic fluid contains meconium this can also indicate ‘fetal distress’. When a fetus (unborn baby) is not getting enough oxygen their intestinal activity increases. This relaxes the anal sphincter allowing meconium to pass into the amniotic fluid that surrounds the baby. If the baby aspirates (inhales) meconium into its lungs, such as by gasping for oxygen, its airway can become blocked by sticky or lumpy meconium.

Read more

What happens when meconium is a sign of fetal distress?

If dark green or black, thick or lumpy meconium drains from the mother after her membranes are ruptured (waters broken) this should warn the midwives that the unborn baby might be suffering from distress. This means that the labour and delivery must be monitored and managed carefully to avoid injury to the baby.

In these circumstances, correct care should include:

  • continuous electronic monitoring of the fetal heart rate and maternal contractions by cardiotocograph (CTG);
  • review by an obstetrician (doctor) if meconium and other abnormalities are present which necessitate urgent delivery of the baby;
  • expedited delivery by forceps, Ventouse (kiwi) or caesarean section.

Preparations should also be made for the birth of a baby who might have aspirated meconium, to avoid delay in restoring the baby’s oxygen supply. These preparations usually include warning the neonatal unit paediatricians (doctors who specialise in newborn babies) that a baby with possible meconium aspiration is about to be born. This allows the paediatricians to attend the delivery, fully equipped and ready if needed to clear the baby’s airway and lungs, and provide resuscitation or ventilation.  

Read more

Can delayed action in response to meconium cause brain injury?

Delayed delivery of a baby who is suffering from hypoxia or lack of oxygen can cause permanent injury to their brain. Meconium is one of many warning signs which should alert midwives to the possibility that lack of oxygen is causing fetal distress.

Acute hypoxia – a short but profound period of oxygen starvation – can permanently damage a baby’s brain in a matter of minutes. Delayed action to clear meconium from the baby’s airway (to allow them to breathe) or provide resuscitation immediately after birth can extend the length of time that the baby is without oxygen. In some cases, this additional delay in restoring the baby’s oxygen supply after birth can turn a reversible episode of hypoxia into irreversible brain damage and permanent disability, or death.

Read more

What injuries can be caused by meconium aspiration?

A baby who is suffering from respiratory distress as a result of meconium aspiration may show the following signs:

  • breathing rapidly
  • grunting
  • retraction (pulling in) or distention (pushing out) of their chest
  • cyanosis (skin is blue in colour from reduced oxygen saturation).

Severe meconium aspiration, such as after delays or failure to clear the airway and resuscitate at birth, can lead to permanent disability from:

Read more

What compensation can you claim for a child with a hypoxic brain injury?

The amount of compensation that can be claimed in a medical negligence claim for a hypoxic brain injury depends on the individual’s injury, its impact on their life and the cost of meeting the additional needs, losses and expenses that are caused by their disability.  

Claims arising from HIE brain injury, such as cerebral palsy, may include compensation for:

  • pain, suffering and disability;
  • case management costs;
  • costs of care (professional or from family);
  • therapies, such as:
    • physiotherapy;
    • occupational therapy (OT);
    • speech and language therapy;
  • assistive technology (IT);
  • costs of surgery or medical treatment;
  • increased costs of suitable accommodation or home adaptations;
  • adapted vehicles, wheelchairs and additional transport costs;
  • loss of earnings and pension;
  • specialist equipment and aids;
  • special educational needs (SEN);
  • Court of Protection and deputyship;
  • other expenses directly arising from the injury and disability.
Read more

Meet your team

Susan Brown

Partner

Richard Money-Kyrle

Partner

Julie Marsh

Senior associate - solicitor

Vanessa Wand

Senior associate - solicitor

Rachel Makore

Associate - solicitor

Alpa Rana

Associate - solicitor

Fran Rothwell

Associate solicitor

Sita Soni

Associate - solicitor

Tara Byrne

Solicitor

Ben Ireland

Solicitor

Audrey Elmore

Medical records coordinator

Aimee Gaston

Trainee Solicitor

Nicky Melville

Professional support assistant

Related news

Related cases

How much compensation can you get for medical negligence?

How to make a medical negligence claim?

How long do medical negligence claims take?

How to fund a medical negligence claim?

How can you prove medical negligence?
Is there a time limit for claiming medical negligence compensation?
Will I need to go to court to claim medical negligence compensation?

Birth injury cases

Awards & Accreditations

Our teams have been nationally recognised over the past decade for their dedication and commitment to securing maximum compensation for our clients

What our clients say

Our clients constantly recognize us as the most experienced, professional, efficient and supportive

See more

"Very Professional "

Boyes Turner helped me through one of the toughest times in my life. They were very professional whilst remaining friendly. At times the process was emotionally tough but they were very patient with me and went through everything with me until I understood it. I cannot recommend them enough. 

Boyes Turner Client

"We cannot thank Susan and her team at Boyes Turner enough"

Words cannot express how grateful we are to Susan and her team for the level of commitment and dedication shown to our family during a time which would be difficult for anyone. Susan demonstrates a calm professional manner which helped us to feel at ease. Her level of knowledge has proven to be the best in the field and we fully recommend her to anyone seeking to investigate birth injury claims. You can be confident that Susan and her team will scrutinise the medical notes thoroughly and will keep you well informed throughout the process. We are very pleased with the outcome of our child’s case and know that her work has resulted in justice being achieved. Our family will now be able to move forward in the knowledge that the finances are securely in place for our child to receive a suitable care package, purchase equipment and receive necessary lifelong therapy. We cannot thank Susan and her team at Boyes Turner enough.

Boyes Turner Client

"I would like to say a huge thank you to Fran Rothwell"

I would like to say a huge thank you to Fran Rothwell for the exceptional work that she has carried out on my behalf. She is knowledgeable, efficient and has great attention to detail.Fran has kept me informed throughout the entire process and has been a great support to me, always being at the end of the phone, or on an email, whenever I needed her. She truly wants the best for her client and is passionate about getting justice. Fran also has a kind and compassionate nature and takes her time to explain what is going on in a clear and simple way. This has been extremely helpful to me during a difficult time.It is certainly reassuring having such strong women behind me.

Boyes Turner Client

"The journey with Julie was interesting! "

From a speculative inquiry to a life changing award, the journey with Julie Marsh was interesting. Julie kept me informed along the way explaining exactly what was going on and more importantly why. The team that was assembled certainly knew their stuff which meant I got all the necessary support to keep going. Thank you all. 

Kevin Ridsdale

"Successfully negotiated a full and fair compensation"

Boyes Turner staff were always helpful and quick to respond. Communicating from the other side of the world presented no problems. Boyes Turner secured generous early interim payments that allowed me to continue my (non-funded) medical treatment that otherwise I could never have afforded. My Boyes Turner solicitor successfully negotiated a full and fair compensation and continuation of funding for future medical treatment and associated costs giving me great peace of mind. Thank you so much Annabelle! I would recommend Boyes Turner solicitors. They are professional, courteous and helpful. 

Brian