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    Meconium Aspiration Syndrome: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

    Illnesses & Infections

    Meconium Aspiration Syndrome: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

    Updated on 3 November 2023

    Meconium Aspiration Syndrome (MAS) is a medical condition that affects newborn babies, usually occurring within the first 24 hours of life. When a baby takes their first breath, they can inhale meconium—a greenish-black substance that is produced in a baby’s intestinal tract and passed out during the baby’s first bowel movement. The inhalation of this substance prevents the baby from getting enough oxygen, leading to MAS. In this article, we will explore the symptoms, causes, and treatments for this dangerous condition.

    What is meconium?

    Meconium is the earliest stool of a newborn. It is thick, sticky, and dark green in colour. Unlike later stools, meconium is composed of materials ingested while in the womb. Meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS) occurs when a newborn inhales meconium, which can happen before or during delivery. When meconium is inhaled, it can cause lung infection and pneumonia. MAS can be a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention.

    Meconium aspiration syndrome causes (MAS)

    When meconium is aspirated into the lungs, it can cause inflammation and damage to the lung tissue. This can lead to respiratory distress and even death. MAS is more common in premature babies and babies who are small for gestational age. It occurs in about 1-2% of births overall.

    The most common symptom of MAS is grunting respirations immediately after birth. Other signs include rapid breathing, cyanosis (a bluish tint to the skin), low blood oxygen levels, and abnormal chest x-rays. Treatment of MAS generally involves providing supportive care to help the baby breathe until the lung damage heals. This may require mechanical ventilation and oxygen therapy. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove meconium from the lungs or repair damaged lung tissue.

    Symptoms of meconium

    While meconium is usually harmless, it can be dangerous if inhaled by a newborn. MAS can cause difficulty breathing, pneumonia, and other respiratory problems.

    How to know if baby passed muconium in womb? The most common symptom of MAS is trouble breathing. Other symptoms may include:

    • A bluish tint to the skin
    • Rapid breathing
    • Grunting noises while breathing
    • Coughing
    • Wheezing

    Diagnosis of meconium

    The symptoms of MAS vary depending on how much meconium the baby inhales. They range from mild respiratory distress to severe respiratory failure. In some cases, the baby may also have other problems, such as pneumonia or an infection.
    If your baby has any of these symptoms, it's important to get medical help right away. A doctor will likely do a physical exam and order tests, such as a chest X-ray or blood test, to confirm the diagnosis.

    Treatment of meconium

    The first step in treating MAS is to stabilize the baby's breathing. This may involve giving the baby oxygen through a mask or nasal cannula, providing positive pressure ventilation through a face mask or endotracheal tube, or both. Once the baby's breathing is under control, doctors will work to clear the meconium from the lungs. This may be done by suctioning the meconium from the mouth and nose, performing a bronchoscopy to remove it from the airways, or giving the baby medications to help loosen and expel it.
    In some cases, MAS can lead to pneumonia or other lung infections. These babies will need additional treatment with antibiotics. Some babies may also need supplemental nutrition if they are not able to feed well on their own. Babies with MAS usually recover without any long-term problems, but they will need close monitoring during their hospital stay and after they go home.

    What problems might arise from meconium?

    When meconium is aspirated into the lungs, it can cause inflammation and irritation. This can lead to difficulty breathing, decreased oxygen levels in the blood, and pneumonia. MAS can be a serious condition, but it's usually treatable with antibiotics and other supportive care.

    How to prevent meconium

    MAS can cause severe respiratory problems and even death. It is more common in premature babies, but can also occur in full-term babies.

    There are several things that can be done to prevent MAS:

    • Perform regular ultrasounds during pregnancy to check the baby's position. If the baby is in the breech position (bottom first), there is a higher risk of MAS. Your doctor may recommend a cesarean section (C-section) delivery to reduce this risk.
    • Avoid using drugs during pregnancy that could increase the risk of MAS, such as cocaine or methamphetamine. These drugs can cause the baby to aspirate meconium while still in the womb.
    • Do not smoke cigarettes during pregnancy. Smoking increases the risk of MAS and other respiratory problems in newborns.
    • Ask your doctor about methods to speed up delivery if you go into labour before 37 weeks gestation. This may reduce the amount of time the baby spends exposed to meconium before birth.

    We hope that our blog post was able to give you a clearer idea about what exactly Meconium Aspiration Syndrome is and how to deal with it. Understanding the symptoms of MAS is helpful as far as seeking medical help at the right time is concerned. If you found the information in this blog helpful, visit Mylo Store to read more blogs related to healthcare and parenting.

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    Written by

    Roohi Kalra

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