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Kidz First Neonatal Care

Public Service, Paediatrics, Intensive Care


Your baby may be in the Neonatal Unit because they were exposed to meconium. Your baby is being treated or tested because of the risk of problems caused by meconium. Meconium is sometimes seen in the waters before the baby is born.
What is wrong?
Meconium is the name of the baby’s first poo.  A baby who is sick or under stress before birth may pass meconium.  This is a problem because:
  • the meconium may get into the lungs and cause breathing problems
  • the stress may have been severe.
Is it serious?
  • The breathing problems caused by meconium are not always serious but in some cases can cause severe breathing problems.
  • The stress or sickness that caused the meconium can be serious.
What are the tests?
  • Some babies are just watched for a few hours.
  • Sicker babies will have blood tests and a chest x-ray.
What is the treatment?
  • Most babies need a drip and antibiotics.
  • Babies who are breathing too fast may need help with their breathing e.g. CPAP.
  • Sicker babies may need oxygen and possible ventilation to breathe for them.
How long?
  • Mild problems usually get better in 1-2 days and the baby can be with the mother.
  • Severe problems take longer.
Special checks
  • Babies who are not very sick do not need a special check after going home.
  • Babies who were very sick babies will need special checks after they go home.

This page was last updated at 11:31AM on September 3, 2021.