Blue baby syndrome or infant methemoglobinemia is a heart disorder where your newborn baby’s skin may turn blue due to lack of enough oxygen in the blood. This may happen when the heart of the baby is malformed. While methemoglobinemia is sometimes congenital and some babies are born with the condition, most of the times it is acquired in babies and could be caused due to exposure of certain substances and some health conditions. (Also read: Biliary atresia: All about the congenital liver disease of babies that could turn fatal)
Eating food or water high in nitrate could lead to this condition or health issues such as anemia, milk protein intolerance, severe metabolic acidosis, and urinary tract infections can also be risk factors.
“Blue baby syndrome is a congenital heart disorder in which oxygen deprived blood circulates in the baby’s entire body. This is the result of multiple abnormal communications in the heart. Causes of blue baby is the malformed heart due to which oxygen deprived blood mixes with oxygenated blood inside the heart chambers,” says Dr. Srinivas M Kini, Sr. Consultant Paediatric CTVS, Marengo QRG Hospital, Faridabad.
SYMPTOMS OF BLUE BABY SYNDROME
“Symptoms primarily will be of reduced oxygenation of the baby. The oxygen saturation will be lower than 95 and the lips and nails will be bluish tinged. Skin colour will also be greyish but cannot be appreciated in brown coloured kids. Baby will be irritable without any apparent reason,” says Dr Kini.
The Paediatric CTVS doctor says the condition is critical for the baby and should be diagnosed and treated as soon as it is detected.
“Every organ of the baby’s body uses oxygen for its vital functions and decreased oxygen supply because of this syndrome can damage them permanently,” says Dr Kini.
Treatment is primarily surgical (open heart surgery) wherein normal anatomy of the heart is restored and all abnormal communications are closed.
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