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Meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS)

What is Meconium aspiration syndrome?

Before or during birth, your baby may be stressed out and due to this, it passes meconium stool (dark green fecal material produced in the intestine of a fetus before birth) while still in uterus. This meconium stool mixes with the amniotic fluid that surrounds the fetus and is inhaled by the baby’s lungs shortly before, during or right after birth. This is known as Meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS). Though, it is not a life-threatening condition but it may pose many complications for your infant. 

What are the causes of Meconium aspiration syndrome?

Meconium aspiration syndrome occurs when the baby is “under stress” in the womb either due to lack of blood or oxygen supply. This mainly happens when there are problems with the placenta or the umbilical cord. However, there are certain reasons for the baby to be under stress in the uterus, namely:

  • Pregnancy that goes beyond 40 weeks
  • Difficult or long labor
  • Health issues like hypertension and diabetes faced by the mother
  • Infection 
What are the symptoms of Meconium aspiration syndrome?

The signs and symptoms of MAS in infants include:

  • Bluish colored skin
  • Difficulty breathing (rapid breathing, grunting or noisy breathing)
  • No breathing
  • Limpness at birth
How can Meconium aspiration syndrome be treated?

Your baby will require immediate treatment if MAS occurs. Your doctor will use a suction tube to remove the meconium from upper airway. In case, your baby is not breathing or has low heart rate, then a bag and mask is used to help him breathe. After the emergency treatment is given to your baby, he is kept in special care unit and breathing pattern is observed. Your doctor may give additional treatment to avoid complications, like:

  • Antibiotics to treat infections
  • Ventilator
  • Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation
  • Oxygen therapy
  • Radiant warmer to maintain baby’s body temperature