Clinical Case Database / Category: Patient Management

Meconium aspiration syndrome

Publication details

Dr Hayley Djemai, Professor David Field
Foundation Years Journal, volume 8, issue 6, p.32 (123Doc Education, London, June 2014)


Meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS) occurs when an infant passes meconium prior to delivery and in addition commences breathing in utero resulting in inhaled meconium. Both these events can be triggered by a degree of asphyxia. Delivery through meconium stained amniotic fluid (MSAF) is common, reported in 8-25% of births at >34 weeks, but the vast majority do not get MAS as there is no significant accompanying asphyxia. (1)

The incidence of MAS has decreased over time as a result of fewer babies being delivered post term. (2) The presence of meconium stained amniotic fluid is a common reason for the paediatric teams to be called to attend deliveries, and the initial assessment of severity of this condition depends upon identifying whether there is evidence of coexisting asphyxia. Prompt clinical management and communication between the obstetric and neonatal team is essential in securing a good outcome.

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Dr Hayley Djemai (Corresponding author)

Foundation Year 2 Doctor
Univerity Hospitals Leicester, Neonatal Unit
Leicester Royal Infimary, Infimary Square, Leicester, LE1 5WW

Professor David Field

Consultant Neonatologist
Univerity Hospitals Leicester, Neonatal Unit
Leicester Royal Infimary, Infimary Square, Leicester, LE1 5WW


1.  Fanaroff A. Meconium aspiration syndrome: historical aspects. Journal of Perinatal medicine. 2008; 28:3-7.

2.  Clark M. Meconium Aspiration Syndrome. eMedicine [internet]. [updated 2014 jan 15; cited 2014 Feb 28]; Available from:

3.  Dargaville PA, Copnell B,. The Epidemiology of Meconium Aspiration. PEDIATRICS 2006; 117(5): 1712-1721. (accessed 26 Feb 2014).

4.  Yeh TF. Meconium Aspiration Syndrome: Pathogenesis and Current Management .Neoreview2010;11(9): 503-512. (accessed 24 February 2014).

5.  NICE. Intrapartum Care: Care of healthy women and their babies during childbirth. (accessed 28 Febuary 2014).

6.  Richmond S, Wyllie J. Newborn Life Support[internet][updated 2010; cited feb 28]; Available from:

7.  The Neonatal Chest X Ray. Paediatric Respiratory Reviews 2001; 4(2): 311-323. chest.pdf (accessed 22 February 2014).


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