Meconium Aspiration and Other Aspiration Syndromes


Aspiration syndromes include all diseases in which foreign substances are inhaled into your baby’s lungs. One of the most common types is known as meconium aspiration syndrome which occurs when a newborn baby breathes meconium and amniotic fluid into the lungs. Meconium is the stool which a newborn baby passes after birth. If, due to problems or complications during pregnancy, your baby passes meconium while still inside the womb, it mixes with the amniotic fluid (the fluid surrounding the baby in the womb) and blocks your baby's airways right after birth.

This causes breathing problems due to swelling in the lungs. There are many causes of meconium aspiration syndrome, such as:

  • Diabetic mother

  • High blood pressure in the mother

  • Difficult or complicated delivery​​

Symptoms of aspiration syndrome appear at birth. The most common ones include:

  • Blue tinge in the baby’s skin

  • Facing difficulty in breathing

  • Rapid breathing

  • Lack of energy in your baby after birth​

If your child is experiencing any of the above symptoms at birth, he or she will be under the care of our Neonatologists and nurses working with the Children’s Hospital Services at The Aga Khan University Hospital. You can be assured of receiving multidisciplinary care under one roof at the only internationally accredited hospital in Pakistan.​

Your time with your doctor maybe limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.​

Your doctor working with the Children’s Hospital Services at The Aga Khan University Hospital, may use a number of tests to detect meconium aspiration syndrome.

  • Blood gas analysis: An arterial blood gas (ABG) test measures the acidity (pH) and the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood from an artery. This test is used to check how well your lungs are able to move oxygen into the blood and remove carbon dioxide from the blood.

  • Chest x-ray: This is an imaging technique used to show a picture of your baby’s insides to detect the symptoms of RDS.

  • Blood tests: These can be used to rule out infection as a cause of breathing problems.

  • Apgar score: Apgar score is a test conducted immediately after your baby is born, to assess his or her health. It is conducted one minute and five minutes after your baby is born, but in some cases an additional test is conducted if your doctor at working with the Children’s Hospital Services at The Aga Khan University Hospital, needs to ensure that your baby’s condition is stable.​

Your baby’s doctor working with the Children’s Hospital Services at The Aga Khan University Hospital can treat for aspiration syndrome in a number of ways.

Our team will be present to ensure that they are monitoring your baby’s condition when he or she is born.  If there are traces of meconium are in the amniotic fluid, but your baby is healthy and active after being born, then no treatment is needed in this situation.

If your baby is not active or crying right after delivery, he or she will be placed in the special care nursery or newborn intensive care unit so their vitals can be monitored closely. To induce breathing, a tube will be placed in his or her airway by one of our expert doctors or nurses. Meconium will be extracted using suction and the procedure can be performed repeatedly.

If your baby is not breathing, or has a low heart rate, then our team will induce breathing using an oxygen mask to deliver oxygen to inflate your baby's lungs.

Other treatments may include:

  • Medications in case of infection

  • Ventilator to keep your baby's lungs inflated

  • Maintaining your baby’s body temperature


The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.​

The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.


Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.​



​The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.