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Recognize the Causes and Symptoms of Blue Baby Syndrome

Blue baby syndrome or blue baby syndrome is a condition that causes a baby's skin to be bluish or purplish. This condition can occur from the time the baby is born to the first months of life.

Basically, the blue baby syndrome is caused by a lack of oxygen levels in the blood. Ideally, blood will be pumped by the heart to the lungs to get oxygen. After that, the blood that is rich in oxygen is returned to the heart, then throughout the body.

However, some babies can have problems with their heart, lungs, or blood. Problems in these three parts can cause the blood that is flowed not to get oxygen properly, causing the baby's skin to turn bluish. This bluish color will be more visible on the thin skin, such as the lips, ears, and nails.

Causes of Blue Baby Syndrome

Lack of oxygen levels in the blood can be caused by several things. Here are some of them:

1. Tetralogy of Fallot

Tetralogy of Fallot is a rare condition, but it is also the most common cause of the blue baby syndrome. In this condition, the heart is deformed in 4 parts. As a result, the flow of blood to the lungs and back to the heart is reduced, and the blood that is circulated throughout the body does not get oxygen at the level it should.

2. Methemoglobinemia

Methemoglobinemia is a blood disorder caused by excess methemoglobin. Methemoglobin is a form of hemoglobin that can carry oxygen but cannot distribute it effectively to body cells.

Methemoglobinemia can occur when babies are poisoned with nitrate. This condition usually occurs when babies are given formula milk mixed with well water, or when babies under 6 months of age are given nitrate-rich foods, such as spinach or beets.

At this age, the baby's digestive tract is not really ready to accept solid food. The baby's digestive tract is also sensitive and tends to produce nitrites. When nitrite circulates in the body, it will produce methemoglobin. This causes oxygen not to be used properly and blue baby syndrome occurs.

3. Other causes

Apart from the 2 causes above, the blue baby syndrome can also occur when there are health problems in both the baby and the mother. The following is an example:

Genetic disorders

Genetic disorders can cause congenital heart defects. For example, babies born with Down syndrome often also have heart problems.

Maternal health condition

Several diseases experienced by mothers during pregnancy can increase the risk of congenital heart defects in children. For example, pregnant women with type 2 diabetes.

Symptoms of Blue Baby Syndrome

In addition to bluish skin color, the blue baby syndrome can also be accompanied by symptoms such as:

  • Fussy
  • Sluggish
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty breathing
  • It's hard to eat
  • It's hard to gain weight
  • Fast heart rate
  • The radius tends to be round
  • Slow development

Diagnosis of Blue Baby Syndrome

In addition to conducting a medical history review and performing an in-person physical exam, your doctor may order a number of tests. The following tests will help determine the cause of blue baby syndrome:

  • Blood test
  • Oxygen saturation test to determine the level of oxygen in the blood
  • Chest x-ray to check the lungs and heart
  • Electrocardiogram to see the electrical activity of the heart
  • Echocardiography to see the pumping function of the heart

Blue Baby Syndrome Prevention and Treatment

Even though blue baby syndrome is difficult to prevent, there are several things that can be done to reduce the chances of a baby getting this syndrome, namely:

  • Avoid giving babies well water even though it has been boiled, because this will not remove the nitrates that may be contained in the well water.
  • Limit nitrate-rich foods, such as broccoli, spinach, beets, and carrots before your baby is 7 months old.
  • Avoid consuming illegal drugs, alcoholic drinks, and smoking during pregnancy to prevent the baby from developing congenital heart defects.
  • Make sure your pregnancy is always well controlled under a doctor's supervision, especially if you are pregnant with certain health conditions, such as diabetes.

If your baby has the blue baby syndrome, make sure you always consult a doctor so that the exact cause of blue baby syndrome can be found immediately. After that, treatment can be done based on the cause. The sooner this condition is treated, the better the results will be.