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Timing Brain Damage (Continued from page 16)

term baby, these studies are of question- able relevance.

Meconium The defense may produce experts who

will show that the baby or the placenta was stained with meconium, the infant’s first feces while still in the womb. Meconium in the amniotic fluid is a sign that the baby was under stress during labor and birth. Even if it can be shown that the meco-

nium was produced many hours before birth, this does not necessarily rule out a

birth-related brain injury. Fetal stress of a degree sufficient to produce meconium usually is not sufficient to produce brain damage. Nonetheless, if you have to fight the battle of timing by meconium stain- ing, one reference is Benirschke’s placental pathology textbook that reports that stain- ing of the outer amnion of the placenta can occur in an hour, the deeper chorion layer of the placenta within three hours, and the infant’s fingernails in four to six hours.24

Thus, the soft skin of a baby takes 24

Kurt Benirschke & Philip Kaufmann, PATHOLOGY OF THE HUMAN PLA- CENTA 295 (3d ed.1995).

between one and four hours to stain. The attorney who investigates a claim

on behalf of a child who suffered cata- strophic injury at birth due to medical negligence faces many challenges. The battle will be fought on all fronts—stan- dard of care, causation, injury, and damages—and at great expense. This is not a challenge that every attorney should take on, but for those willing and able to study the medical literature and give their client’s cause full effort, there is no greater satisfaction than pursuing justice for a child.

© 2006, Zev T. Gershon and Wayne M. Willoughby.

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Trial Reporter

Summer 2006

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