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.
Long-Term Effects of Meconium Aspiration
Initially, the effects of MAS are mainly cyanosis, abnormal breathing, and decreased heart rate. The factors that contribute to MAS also have their own impacts on a newborn’s health, namely an increased risk of infection, poor feeding, and inability to thrive.
While treatment is available and highly effective, there are some possible long-term effects of meconium aspiration. Because meconium contains bile, it contains enzymes that break down protein. When meconium enters the nose and mouth, the enzymes damage the throat and lung tissues. Additionally, the chemicals within meconium can irritate the tissue and cause inflammation which prevents normal breathing.
Long-term effects of oxygen deprivation include:
- Need for oxygen supplementation
- Asthma or asthma-like conditions
- Poor growth and development
- Increased risk of seizures
- Brain damage and cerebral palsy
- Increased risk of pneumonia and other infections