Meconium Aspiration Syndrome (Pediatric)

What is meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS)?

MAS occurs when an infant has a bowel movement (meconium) before birth. The meconium mixes with the amniotic fluid and when the baby breathes before birth, this substance can get into the lungs. The result is irritation and inflammation. In addition, because the meconium is thick and sticky, it also can clog the baby’s airways.

MAS can range from very mild to very serious. Our Child Health experts monitor premature infants very carefully to avoid this problem.

What are the symptoms of MAS?

Symptoms are:

  • Difficulty breathing (fast breathing, nostrils flaring, air sucked in between the ribs and under the ribcage).
  • Cyanosis (a blue discoloration of the skin, especially around the lips and mouth).

Babies with MAS may also develop an air leak (pneumothorax), or persistent pulmonary hypertension.

What is the treatment for MAS?

If a baby has meconium aspiration syndrome, then treatment will begin right away in the delivery room. When MAS is detected, an airway tube may be inserted, and the meconium, suctioned out.