About 5% to 10% of babies born in Ohio can experience meconium aspiration syndrome, a serious birth complication that can impact your newborn’s health immediately. Prompt diagnosis and treatment is key to prevent respiratory issues and possible infant death.

Late in pregnancy, an unborn baby’s intestines start producing dark green fecal matter called meconium. During the first few days of life, it is normal for a newborn to pass meconium stools. However, sometimes a fetus will pass meconium while still in the uterus. According to Healthline, this usually occurs due to stress. Having nowhere else to go, the meconium then combines with the amniotic fluid within the womb, where the baby may breathe it in. This may occur during the birth, before birth or just afterward.

The presence of meconium in the amniotic fluid is an indication of possible meconium aspiration. Symptoms include respiratory distress, low blood pressure and limpness. Another telltale sign is cyanosis, i.e., a bluish tint to the skin.

If these one or more of these symptoms are present, the doctor will perform tests to confirm the diagnosis. These can include a chest x-ray and a test of the gases present in the baby’s blood. The doctor will probably also use a stethoscope to listen to the baby’s breath sounds and check for abnormality.

After diagnosing MAS, the first treatment your doctor is likely to try involves using suction to clear the upper airway of meconium. Your baby may then need oxygen therapy if he or she is still in respiratory distress. Other treatments include antibiotics to guard against infection and a radiant warmer to help your baby maintain body temperature.

The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.