Meconium is the first stool of an infant. Sometimes this stool is passed in the fluid that surrounds the baby in pregnancy.
Meconium aspiration is when the meconium is inhaled into the baby’s lungs. Meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS) is a set of symptoms that may result from meconium inhalation.
Not all infants that inhale meconium will develop these symptoms. It is not known why some infants develop MAS and others do not.
Factors that increase your baby’s risk of meconium aspiration include:
Factors in the mother that increase the chance of meconium aspiration in the child include:
Symptoms of MAS may include:
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history and perform a physical exam. Your doctor may order tests to look for complications or causes.
Meconium aspiration may not cause serious problems. Your doctor will monitor your baby. Other treatment may not be needed.
If your child is not vigorous in the delivery room the doctor may need to intubate them to remove meconium from the trachea (breathing tube).
Supportive care may be needed if the aspiration is causing breathing difficulty. Your baby may need to be monitored in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan. Options include:
MAS can lower the amount of oxygen to your baby’s body. Your baby may be given oxygen in the delivery room. The oxygen will be given through a mask or a hood that fits over the baby’s head. This will improve the amount of oxygen in the body by making more available in the lungs.
The therapy may be continued if your baby continues to have problems breathing.
Your baby may be given medication. The medication will coat the lungs and help clear the airways. This will also help your baby’s lungs mature.
Other medication may include antibiotics or heart medication. A special gas called nitric oxide may also be added. This gas can help open the blood vessels in the lungs. This will let more oxygen enter the body.
American Academy of Pediatrics
Canadian Paediatric Society
Meconium aspiration. KidsHealth.org website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/parent/medical/lungs/meconium.html#a_Prevention. Updated October 2011. Accessed December 10, 2012.
Meconium aspiration. Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital website. Available at: http://www.lpch.org/DiseaseHealthInfo/HealthLibrary/hrnewborn/mecasp.html. Accessed December 10, 2012.
Meconium aspiration. University of Rochester Medical Center website. Available at: http://www.urmc.rochester.edu/Encyclopedia/Content.aspx?ContentTypeID=90&ContentID=P02384. Accessed December 10, 2012.
Meconium aspiration syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/. Updated August 24, 2012. Accessed December 10, 2012.
Last reviewed September 2013 by Kari Kassir, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.