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What happens when a fetus inhales meconium?

Q: My son was born last week by a Caesarean section. Till the end the doctors said it would be a normal delivery but at the last moment they did the operation because the foetal heart beat was low. Now the problem is that the meconium went inside the lungs. The doctors put him in the baby care unit with a ventilator and all life suport. They have been giving all kinds of treatment. Why did this happen and where in India can it be treated?

A:Your son was born through an operation the reason for which, as you have mentioned, is passage of stool which is called meconium inside the uterus only. This is a condition where the baby passes stool in response to some stress, the cause of which may not always be identifiable. When this happens, the baby is likely to take a breath and inhales meconium into the lungs. This, after birth, causes difficulty in breathing, pneumonia and a condition called Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN) which means very high blood pressure within lungs. This can be a very critical situation and the baby may require breathing support with the help of a ventilator as is the case with your child. Over a period of time things should improve if the lungs are in a recoverable condition. At times lungs may have suffered a very severe insult where recovery becomes diffcult. I am sure the baby is getting the best of treatment. Have patience and I wish with time things would get better.


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