Effects Of Meconium Aspiration

Effects Of Meconium Aspiration

Every expectant couple looks forward to an uncomplicated delivery and the birth of a healthy baby. But, sometimes complications that arise at childbirth can impact your newborn’s health. One such complication is meconium aspiration that can result in respiratory distress and can even become life-threatening for your baby.

Here’s what you need to know about meconium aspiration and its effects on a newborn baby.

What is Meconium Aspiration?

Meconium aspiration, also known as meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS) or  neonatal aspiration of meconium is a medical condition in which an infant inhales a mixture of meconium (the first stool of a baby) and amniotic fluid (the fluid surrounding an unborn baby).

In normal cases, an infant passes meconium a couple of days after birth. But sometimes the baby can expel meconium while remaining inside the uterus, which then gets mixed with the amniotic fluid. This mixture can pass into the baby’s lung before, during, or immediately after birth through inhalation. It is possible to treat MAS with proper medications and care. However, if left untreated, MAS can turn out to be fatal for your newborn.

Causes of Meconium Aspiration


The main cause of MAS is believed to be fetal stress. Among the factors that can contribute to fetal  stress are the following:

• An ageing placenta that is past the due date for delivery.
• Insufficient oxygen received by the fetus in the uterus.
• Prolonged or difficult labour.
• Certain maternal health conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
• Infection.

Symptoms of Meconium Aspiration

An infant suffering from MAS may exhibit the following symptoms:

• Rapid breathing, laboured breathing, or no breathing.
• Development of bluish skin colour.
• Limpness at birth.
• Slow heart rate before delivery.
• Low blood pressure.

What Are the Effects of Meconium Aspiration?


MAS can result in several disorders in newborns that can have long-term effects, such as:

Airway Blockage

MAS can cause large and small airway blockage, lung inflammation, collapsing of lungs, fluid accumulation in lungs, and narrowing of blood vessels.

Fetal Hypoxia

The partial obstruction of the airways can cause air trapping as well as hyperinflation of some portions of the lung and lead to pneumothorax (abnormal accumulation of air between the chest wall and the lung). Chronic hypoxia can result in increased blood pressure in the lungs and circulatory and respiratory failure.


The chances of microbial attack of the amniotic cavity (MIAC) increases as a result of MAS and can induce fetal lung inflammation.

Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension (PPHN)

Depending on the meconium concentration within the respiratory tract, PPHN can get triggered in the infant. PPHN is a condition of enhanced blood pressure in the lungs and is regarded as one of the leading factors that can cause death in MAS.


Meconium can induce apoptosis, which is a mechanism to clear injured cells and repair tissues. But too much of this mechanism can lead to severe lung injury or lung damage.

Brain Damage

One of the long-term effects of MAS is brain damage that may take place due to the lack of oxygen or low oxygen levels.

How to Prevent Meconium Aspiration?

The best way to prevent MAS is early detection. You can find out if your baby is experiencing stress in the uterus or not through fetal monitoring. If there are signs of MAS, your doctor will be able to help ease fetal distress, thus reducing the chances of MAS development.


Also read: Meconium And Why It Is So Important


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