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Thursday, September 21, 2017

MECONIUM DANGERS IN PREGNANCY

Meconium Explained

Meconium was always a big mystery to me. Whenever I heard about meconium it was usually a bad thing at the time of delivery if the baby inhaled it.
See also www.getpregnantover40.com for more on pregnancy over 40 or any age
Here is a question/answer article from www.drgreene.org about what meconium is and when it can be a problem:

We might think of amniotic fluid as pristine, clear water, but your growing baby was already making a mess. Old skin cells and hairs (which would become dust in the outside world) began to build up in the fluid. Unlike later in life, your daughter cleaned up her own mess. As soon as she began swallowing, she removed the debris from the fluid. This sludge began to accumulate in her intestines. Called meconium, this dark-green tarry substance is a mixture of hair, cells, enzymes, blood, mucus, and other secretions. By the time of your daughter's birth, the meconium had filled most of her intestines. Meconium is sterile -- very unlike the bacteria-filled stools that will follow...

...If a baby passes a meconium stool before birth, the amniotic fluid is stained and the baby is covered with meconium (reminiscent of the mess dads can make changing diapers). The baby is also likely to swallow the meconium, which sounds disgusting but doesn't present a problem. The sterile meconium does not predispose to urinary tract infections, but meconium can cause significant problems if it is inhaled into the lungs.

In only about 2% to 5% of babies born in meconium-stained amniotic fluid will some of the thick, tarry meconium be inhaled, plug the small airways, and thus cause respiratory distress (Manual of Pediatric Practice, WB Saunders, 1998 and Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics, WB Saunders, 2000). Speedy delivery of distressed babies and suctioning the mouth and nose when the head has been delivered (before the expanding lungs take their first breath) can help prevent this meconium aspiration. Sometimes, more vigorous suctioning or even infusing extra amniotic fluid into the uterus before birth is needed.

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