Meconium Aspiration Syndrome

The first stool that an infant passes is dark green and is termed Meconium. Around the time of delivery, if the baby breathes in meconium and amniotic fluid into the lungs, it makes it difficult for the baby to breathe. As a result, the blood supply is hindered, and the baby turns blue, possibly resulting in death. This group of symptoms that occur due to inhalation of the meconium and the amniotic fluid is called meconium aspiration syndrome.

Symptoms of Meconium Aspiration Syndrome

As fluid enters the lungs of the infant, it makes breathing difficult and can be visibly found by the following symptoms:

  • Gasping for breath
  • Baby’s skin turns blue
  • Limpness of babies
  • Obvious presence of meconium in the amniotic fluid

Causes of Meconium Aspiration Syndrome

Any form of stress that the baby experiences either before or during delivery may impair the proper circulation of oxygen and may increase the chances of meconium aspiration syndrome. Some of the common causes of stress may include:

  • Gestational diabetes or hypertension
  • Prolonged or uncomfortable labour
  • Delivery of baby past the due date
  • Infection

When the baby stays inside the womb past the speculated delivery date, it starts excreting meconium, and the decrease in the amount of amniotic fluid close to the delivery date concentrates the meconium and increases the risk of meconium aspiration syndrome. However, taking proper care of your health close to the due date may prevent the condition.

When to See the Doctor?

Meconium Aspiration Syndrome can be caught before delivery with the help of a fetal monitor that shows a slowed heart rate (of the baby). You may be asked to deliver your baby as soon as possible. After birth, if the baby has breathing problems and turns blue, your doctor will check for abnormal breathing sounds through a stethoscope. Further, he/she will do a laryngoscope to confirm the presence of meconium in the vocal cords and will do procedures to save your baby. He/she may also do a blood gas analysis to look for decreased oxygen levels or a chest X-ray to look for lung patches.

Risk Factors for Meconium Aspiration Syndrome

The older the placenta gets, the more likely is meconium aspiration syndrome to occur. If the baby's delivery is delayed beyond the due date, it stresses the baby. The baby excretes meconium, and the simultaneous decrease in the amount of amniotic fluid concentrates the meconium. Therefore, the meconium is likely to enter the lungs and impair oxygen circulation.

Some of the factors that put stress on the baby are:

  • Placental age
  • Prolonged labour
  • Decrease in oxygen supply to the baby while in the uterus
  • Gestational diabetes or hypertension

Possible Complications of Meconium Aspiration Syndrome

Meconium Aspiration Syndrome can prove deadly if not treated in time. As it deprives the baby of oxygen, it should be treated quickly. In most babies, it does not have long-term health effects. But in rare cases, permanent pulmonary hypertension and brain damage may result.

Treatment for Meconium Aspiration Syndrome

After finding out that the baby has swallowed meconium, the mouth is suctioned to remove the meconium at the sight of the baby's head (during delivery). If the baby continues to show distress, they are placed in the NICU, and the following are done:

  • Tapping on the chest to loosen secretions
  • Administering antibiotics to prevent infections like pneumonia
  • A ventilator or breathing machine to keep the lungs open
  • Using a warmer to maintain an optimum body temperature

Meconium Aspiration Syndrome is a common complication during delivery, especially if the delivery is past the due date. But, with technological development and skilled caretakers, damage to long-term health can be avoided.

Request an appointment at Apollo Cradle, Amritsar - Abadi Court Road. Call 1860-500-1066 to book an appointment.

1. How long does it take for Meconium Aspiration Syndrome to go away?

The symptoms are often resolved within a few hours after birth. But sometimes, it takes two to four days for the baby to feel healthy again. Proper care has to be taken concerning the baby’s nutrition during the period.

2. What are the long-term effects of Meconium Aspiration Syndrome?

Some babies with Meconium Aspiration Syndrome may develop asthma, poor growth, and frequent incidences of viral or bacterial pneumonia later in their lives.

3. Is Meconium Aspiration Syndrome fatal?

If the inhaled meconium is sucked out immediately after birth, it does not cause any fatal effects. But if it is not removed, it deprives the circulation of oxygen to the brain and may cause brain damage or death.

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