Before talking about the effects and treatment options, we need to discuss the condition itself. Meconium is a viscous fluid that is a mixture of an infant’s waste products and amniotic fluid. Research has shown that meconium also contains fine hair (lanugo), bile, and intestinal fluids.
Meconium aspiration occurs when the meconium enters the mouth and lungs of a newborn. Because of its thickness, meconium may clog the airways which reduces oxygen intake. It could also stick to the air sacs of the lungs. This is what is known as Meconium Aspiration Syndrome (MAS). Signs and symptoms include cyanosis, low oxygen saturation, low APGAR score, and a greenish stain or streaking in the amniotic fluid.
Risk Factors for Meconium Aspiration
Although MAS is fairly uncommon, occurring in approximately 10% of births, certain infants are at greater risk. Two major factors that contribute to MAS are fetal stress and being born past their due date. Normally, meconium is excreted after a baby is born and is known as their “first poop.” However, in post-term or late deliveries, the baby may pass meconium while still in the womb.
On the other hand, there are also risk factors that can affect a mother and lead to MAS in her newborn. Again, stress during pregnancy is one factor. Other factors include high blood pressure or eclampsia, and gestational diabetes.