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Meconium Aspiration Syndrome Causes, Treatment, and Symptoms

Sep 04, 2023

Meconium Aspiration Syndrome

Meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS) or meconium aspiration is the term for the disease that occurs when a baby has breathing issues as a result of meconium entering their lungs immediately before or during birth. 

Baby's first excrement, called meconium, is a sticky substance. If the baby passes meconium before delivery, then there is a high chance that the child might breathe it in. Inhaling meconium can irritate your baby's airways, damage their lungs, and prevent surfactants from working properly to help expand their lungs.

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Causes Of Meconium Aspiration Syndrome

Stress is the most prevalent cause of meconium aspiration, although there are other causes as well. An illness or low oxygen levels are two instances of stress. Your baby will gasp loudly and deeply while under stress.

 They inhale amniotic fluid deeply into their lungs as a result of this violent gasp. Meconium gets into their lungs if the amniotic fluid includes it. Their airways become clogged with the aspirated meconium, making it difficult for them to breathe.

Symptoms Of Meconium Aspiration Syndrome

Meconium can be harmful to breathe in or inhale. The following are a few of the most typical indications that your infant has aspirated meconium:

  • Respiratory issues.
  • Bradycardia
  • Cyanosis
  • Rapid breathing.
  • Grunting.
  • Draws in the chest.
  • Limpness.

Diagnosis Of Meconium Aspiration Syndrome

The symptoms of your newborn and the presence of meconium in the amniotic fluid are used to make a diagnosis.

With a stethoscope, your doctor will examine your baby's chest to listen for signs of unusual breathing. Several techniques are frequently applied to confirm the diagnosis, including:

  • A blood gas test to measure carbon dioxide and oxygen levels
  • An X-ray of the chest to check for debris in the lungs of your infant

Treatment Of Meconium Aspiration Syndrome

In the event of meconium aspiration syndrome, your baby will require quick care to clear the meconium from the upper airway. Your doctor will promptly suction the throat, mouth, and nose after delivery.

A tube may be inserted into your newborn's trachea to suction the fluid containing meconium from the windpipe if they are not breathing or responding normally. 

Your doctor will use a bag and mask to assist your newborn in breathing if they are still not breathing or have a low heart rate. This will help your baby's lungs to expand and transport oxygen to them.

If the baby is severely sick or isn't breathing on their own, your doctor may need to insert a tube into the baby's windpipe to assist with breathing.

Your infant might be kept in a special care facility to be monitored for breathing after emergency care has been given. To prevent meconium aspiration syndrome problems, additional treatment could be required. These are the top five treatments:

  • Using a radiant warmer to help your baby maintain body temperature and oxygen therapy to ensure there is adequate oxygen in the blood
  • Medications to cure or prevent infections, such as gentamicin and ampicillin
  • The use of a ventilator (a breathing apparatus) to help your baby breathe extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO).

Prevention Of Meconium Aspiration Syndrome

The best line of defense in preventing meconium aspiration syndrome is early identification. Before giving birth, fetal monitoring can reveal whether or not your baby is under stress.

Your doctor can take measures to ease fetal distress throughout labor and lessen the likelihood that Meconium aspiration syndrome will manifest. Additionally, if your kid is under stress and exhibits symptoms of MAS, your doctor will be ready to examine and treat your child straight away.

Complications Of Meconium Aspiration Syndrome

Most newborns with Meconium aspiration syndrome won't experience any long-term medical problems. However, MAS is a major problem that may have an immediate effect on the health of your newborn. Meconium in the lungs can lead to infection and inflammation.

Meconium can also obstruct the airways, which can lead to lung overexpansion. A lung may burst or collapse if it overextends or inflates excessively. Following that, air from the lung's interior may collect in the chest and surrounding the lung. It is challenging to reinflate the lung when this condition, known as a pneumothorax, occurs.

PPHN, or persistent pulmonary hypertension in the newborn, is more likely to occur if your baby has Meconium aspiration syndrome. Your baby's ability to breathe properly is hampered by inadequate blood flow through the lungs' blood arteries, which is caused by high blood pressure. Even though it is uncommon, PPHN can be fatal.

Severe meconium aspiration syndrome can in rare instances prevent the brain from getting enough oxygen and a  lasting brain injury might result from this.

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