Sunday, January 24, 2010

Late night Saturday

Been following a harrowing story on Facebook. The niece of a friend of a friend (and I only know the friend) just gave birth to a baby who had aspirated meconium (fetal feces) and now has severe brain damage. (See here for info on aspiration of meconium.) The baby is unconscious and has been on life support.

Normally, babies don't have their first bowel movement until after they're born. (See here.) But a certain small percentage excrete the meconium in the womb, though usually it doesn't lead to serious complications. The meconium is very thick and sticky, however, and if enough of it is inhaled by the baby in the womb, it can clog the lungs and cut off the oxygen supply to the baby's brain at birth. That appears to have happened here.

In this case, the mother had a staph infection in her umbilical cord (though she didn't have the infection herself). From what I've read on the Internet, the infection could have put the baby in distress and triggered the premature excretion of the meconium.

I pored over the photos posted by the mother on the Internet and read her narrative. After the initial enthusiasm over the birth, the mother now writes that, according to an MRI, the baby will never be able to walk and perhaps not even know who her parents are. What a terribly sad prognosis.

My heart goes out to this family of a friend of a friend.

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