The first stool that a newborn baby passes is meconium.
Usually, babies do not defecate until after birth, but sometimes they can pass meconium while still inside the womb. This can be especially dangerous because an infant can inhale the substance into the lungs, causing meconium aspiration syndrome.
Signs and symptoms
Any of the following signs are immediate cause for concern:
- Yellow or green tint to amniotic fluid
- Bluish stains on the baby’s skin
- Limpness, difficulty breathing or slow heart rate
A chest scan may be necessary to diagnose meconium aspiration syndrome as well as to rule out other conditions, such as pneumonia. Doctors and nurses should be on the lookout for any indicators of illness to mom or baby, but failure to recognize them in time can have deadly consequences.
A baby is more likely to pass meconium before birth if:
- There is a delay during delivery
- The mom goes into labor past the due date
- The mom suffers from a serious medical condition such as diabetes
Ideally, the medical team should be aware of any risk factors to the mom or baby and have a plan to address them during or after birth.
After specialized treatment in the neonatal intensive care unit, including a course of antibiotics and oxygen therapy, most babies with meconium aspiration syndrome make a full recovery. However, some potential complications can include damage to airways and lung tissue. In cases where prolonged oxygen deprivation occurs, the child is at risk for permanent brain damage.
You trust your health care team to prevent birth injuries during and after delivery. Failure to diagnose or treat meconium aspiration syndrome may constitute egregious medical negligence.