Blue baby syndrome, causes, symptoms, treatment

Blue baby syndrome overview

Parents are always very anxious to welcome their newborns. They care about their child’s health condition. Newborns can go through sickness ranging from mild to severe. Influenza, fever is mild type of sickness while blue baby syndrome is a severe kind of sickness. Infant methemoglobinemia is another term used for the blue baby syndrome. The Baby’s skin tone turns blue, and it is caused due to lack of hemoglobin in the blood. This condition occurs when there is decreased oxygen saturation in mucus membranes near the patient’s skin.

Blue baby syndrome, causes, symptoms, treatment

The blue baby syndrome is most common in infants below 6 months of age. Because infants at this age do not have the ability to form oxygen-carrying molecules known as methemoglobin reductase. This blue or purple coloration is prominent where the skin is thin like on lips, nails, ears. This is most commonly due to congenital heart defects, genetic or environmental factors.

Causes of blue baby syndrome

Due to the excessive use of fertilizers water gets contaminated with nitrates. When this water is used in the baby’s food after entering in body nitrates convert into nitrites. Nitrites bind with hemoglobin resulting in the formation of methemoglobin. Methemoglobin is unable to carry oxygen, and lack of oxygen gives a bluish tinge to the skin.

Symptoms of Infant methemoglobinemia

The most common symptoms of the blue baby syndrome include blue coloration of hands, feet, lips, ear lobes, and face. Other symptoms might include;

  • Increased heart beat
  • Clubbed toes and fingers
  • Irritability and lethargy
  • Developmental problems
  • Seizures and vomiting
  • Increased salivation
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Difficulty breathing
How is BBS diagnosed

Health care professionals diagnose the baby’s health condition, skin coloration by normal assessment and then performing diagnostic tests. The diagnostic tests will confirm the syndrome and its underlying cause. Tests might include;

  • Cardiac catheterization
  • Echocardiogram
  • Electrocardiogram
  • Oxygen saturation test
  • Blood tests
  • Chest X-ray
Precautionary measures

Health care professionals ask you to test nitrate levels in the water used at your home. If the nitrate level is higher than 10 milligrams per liter don’t use this water for drinking purposes. Water containing nitrate levels below 10 milligrams per liter can be used. You can prevent blue baby syndrome by taking some precautionary measures like; stop using water containing more than 10 milligrams of nitrates per liter. Avoid alcohol consumption, drugs, smoking, and some medications.

Blue baby syndrome, causes, symptoms, treatment
Treatment for Blue baby syndrome

Treatment depends upon the root cause of the syndrome. There might be a wide variety of causes ranging from nitrate imbalance to congenital heart defects. If nitrate-contaminated water is the underlying cause then avoid using water enriched with nitrates. If it’s due to congenital heart defects surgery is the most likely option. A health care professional can also prescribe medications and drugs depending upon the severity of the syndrome. In some cases, a drug called methylene blue is prescribed. This drug reverses the effect of methemoglobin by binding oxygen with blood. Surgery might be a risky and scary process for newborns.

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