Meconium Aspiration Syndrome: A Complete Guide


Meconium aspiration syndrome, or MAS, is a serious lung disease in newborns that could kill them. It happens when a baby breathes in a mixture of the baby's first stool (meconium) and amniotic fluid while being born. This can cause severe respiratory distress, oxygen deprivation, and other complications. MAS can cause long-term effects such as developmental disabilities, chronic lung disease, and even death. With early detection and proper medical care, however, the prognosis for babies with MAS can be improved.

What is meconium aspiration syndrome?

Meconium Aspiration Syndrome (MAS) is a condition that happens in babies when they breathe in meconium, which is their first stool.MAS can cause trouble breathing, cyanosis (bluish skin), low levels of oxygen in the blood, and a smaller lung capacity. The meconium could be sucked out of the airways and oxygen or a machine could be used to help the baby breathe. If not treated quickly, serious complications can occur, including pneumonia, bronchitis, and even death. Therefore, early detection is key to treating MAS successfully.

What are the causes behind meconium aspiration syndrome?

Meconium aspiration syndrome happens when a baby inhales meconium during delivery.

Inhaling meconium can cause breathing problems such as bronchospasm, decreased lung compliance, surfactant deficiency, and inflammation of the lungs, leading to atelectasis.

It can also lead to pneumonia and airway obstruction due to blockage by the meconium. Other symptoms include cyanosis and reduced oxygen saturation in the blood. Severe cases of meconium aspiration syndrome can lead to respiratory failure and death.

What are the symptoms of meconium aspiration syndrome?

Here are the symptoms of meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS):

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coughing and wheezing
  • rapid heart rate
  • Low oxygen levels
  • increased respiratory rate
  • grunting sound when breathing out
  • Cyanosis
  • Respiratory distress, such as rapid breathing or short pauses in respirations
  • Chest retractions are seen as the chest wall draws in with each breath.
  • Weak cry
  • Apnea, or lack of breathing
  • Bluish discolouration of the skin due to poor oxygenation
  • Nasal flaring
  • Grunting noises with expiration

When should one see a doctor for meconium aspiration syndrome?

Meconium aspiration syndrome is a serious condition that needs to be checked out by a doctor if a baby has rapid breathing or trouble feeding right after birth, or if the baby's skin, nails, or lips turn blue. A doctor should also be contacted if the baby's respiratory rate is greater than 60 breaths per minute and oxygen levels are low. Also, chest X-rays may be needed to make a diagnosis of meconium aspiration syndrome because they can show if meconium is in the lungs. If any of these symptoms occur, parents should contact their doctor immediately.

What are the risk factors for meconium aspiration syndrome?

The common risk factors for meconium aspiration syndrome include:

  • Prematurity, with gestational age less than 37 weeks
  • Macrosomia, with birth weight greater than 4000 grammes
  • Maternal diabetes
  • Placental abruption
  • Deep meconium staining in the amniotic fluid
  • Delivery via vacuum extraction or forceps
  • Prolonged labour
  • Oligohydramnios
  • Cephalopelvic disproportion


Meconium aspiration syndrome is a serious condition that can make it hard for a baby to breathe and cause other problems. Healthcare providers need to recognise the symptoms of meconium aspiration syndrome, including tachypnea, cyanosis, and a lack of oxygenation. Early detection and treatment are essential for preventing long-term complications and improving outcomes for affected babies. With proper education and early intervention, meconium aspiration syndrome can be managed successfully in many cases.

Request an appointment at Apollo Cradle, DELHI-NCR - Chirag Enclave. Call 1860-500-1066 to book an appointment.

1. Are there any long-term effects of meconium aspiration syndrome?

Yes, some infants may experience long-term complications from the condition, such as chronic lung disease, cerebral palsy, developmental delays, and hearing loss.

2. What treatments are available for meconium aspiration syndrome?

Treatment for meconium aspiration syndrome typically includes supplemental oxygen therapy, mechanical ventilation, antibiotics to treat infections, and medications to reduce inflammation.

3. Can meconium aspiration syndrome be prevented?

Yes, doctors can take steps during labor and delivery to reduce the risk of meconium aspiration by carefully monitoring the fetal heart rate or administering an amnioinfusion to flush away any existing meconium in the amniotic fluid.

4. How is MAS diagnosed?

MAS is typically diagnosed based on a combination of factors, including a baby's symptoms, the presence of meconium in the amniotic fluid, and abnormal chest X-rays or other imaging studies.

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