Is Meconium Aspiration (Baby Swallowing Poop) Dangerous?

You’ve probably heard of things like baby eating poop or baby swallowing poop. This situation, called meconium aspiration, is actually quite risky. How dangerous is meconium aspiration that occurs while the baby is still in the womb or during birth, and how is the treatment process? Let’s talk a little.

What is meconium aspiration?

During pregnancy, thick, sticky and dark green poop accumulates in the intestines of the baby in the womb. This poop, called meconium, is normally excreted with bowel movements within a few days after birth. However, some babies can pass this first stool, called meconium, while still in the womb or during birth. This situation, which is popularly known as the baby’s swallowing of poop, actually consists of the stool going down the baby’s windpipe and down to the lungs.

In other words, meconium aspiration syndrome is not swallowing the poop of the baby in the womb, as it is popularly said. This is the passage of feces into the windpipe or lungs of the baby while in the womb or during birth.

Why does the baby poop in the womb?

  • Long and difficult birth
  • Problems such as compression of the umbilical cord during childbirth,
  • Over 40 weeks of pregnancy
  • Having chronic lung and cardiovascular diseases in the mother,
  • Having high blood pressure and diabetes in the mother,
  • preeclampsia ,
  • Insufficient amniotic fluid
  • Situations such as the baby not developing well in the mother’s womb and remaining small can lead to meconium aspiration.

Symptoms of meconium aspiration

  • Appearance of meconium fragments in the amniotic fluid,
  • Green color of amniotic fluid
  • Change in baby’s skin color (green due to meconium staining or blue/purple skin color as a result of not getting enough oxygen),
  • Respiratory distress (frequent or difficult breathing),
  • Slow heartbeat of the baby before birth
  • baby slack,
  • Findings in the baby regarding the prolongation of the gestation period (such as the extension of the nails).

How is meconium aspiration diagnosed?

After the baby, who is thought to have meconium aspiration, is born, the respiratory tract is examined with a lighted instrument. Pieces of poop in the larynx and trachea are removed with a vacuuming device. The baby’s lungs are rested and if necessary, a film is taken and blood gases are measured.

How is meconium aspiration treated?

Babies who are active and have a heart rate above 100 beats per minute who have aspirated meconium are only allowed on pancakes. The baby is followed up for signs such as increased respiratory rate and bruising. Because if there is going to be a troublesome situation, it usually occurs within the first 24 hours after birth.

In infants who have aspirated meconium and whose activity has decreased and whose heart rate is below 100 beats per minute, the respiratory tract is tried to be cleared of meconium as much as possible. A tube is placed in the respiratory tract of the baby and the area is tried to be cleaned by aspiration at regular intervals.

The meconium aspiration treatment process is more difficult in some cases. These cases, which require special treatment, are treated in special centers. Generally;

  • Surfactant treatment,
  • high frequency oscillation,
  • Rescue therapy is administered.

How many days does meconium aspiration treatment take?

Recovery in most infants from meconium aspiration varies from a few days to a few weeks. This time is mostly proportional to the amount of poop that goes into the baby’s respiratory tract.

What is the risk of meconium aspiration?

Babies who have had very heavy meconium aspiration may have to use a device to provide them with oxygen when discharged. As the lungs can develop new air sacs, they return to normal within 1 year.

According to some studies, one of the risk factors for meconium aspiration syndrome is that the baby is prone to developing asthma later in life. However, although this is unlikely, meconium aspiration can lead to death in severely distressed infants.

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