Blue Baby Syndrome (BBS) also known as infant methemoglobinemia is a condition that occurs in some babies at an early stage in life, in which they develop a blue or purple tinge skin colour called cyanosis due to the low amount of hemoglobin in the blood.
Blue baby syndrome, may be a rare condition, however, it is still crucial for parents to carefully observe their babies, and when they notice unusual changes, should see their doctor. There are number of symptoms of cyanosis and these include; constant crying, display of feeding tantrums, irritability, excessive salivation, weight loss, fast breathing, fever/joint pain/headache, poor pulse, slow growth, fast heart beat, seizures and diarrhea.
There are numerous causes of Blue Baby Syndrome and they include; Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF), Congenital Down Syndrome, Maternal Type 2 Diabetes, Transposition of Great Arteries (TGA), Methemoglobinemia resulted by nitrate poisoning.
Here are 8 proven facts about Blue Baby Syndrome you need to know;
1) Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF) is a primary cause of blue baby syndrome
Although, there are several causes of cyanosis, however, tetralogy of fallot is the primary cause. This contains four heart defects that can result in a reduction in blood flow to the lungs as well as allowing oxygen deficient blood flow into the body.
2) Blue Baby Syndrome can be diagnosed by taking a careful medical history and performing a physical examination on a baby
A diagnosis need to be done in order to ascertain whether the baby has this condition or not, as well as determine the cause(s) of it. Series of tests carried out by a medical doctor to determine this are; Blood tests, Electrocardiogram, Oxygen saturation, Chest X-ray, Cardiac catheterization, Echocardiogram. Each of these tests have purposes they serve.
3) This condition can be reversed by taking a drug called methylene blue
Methylene blue is a drug that can be given to reverse blue baby syndrome. It provides oxygen to the blood, and is administered through a needle inserted into the vein. However, it is important to get a doctor’s prescription before using this drug.
4) A procedure for treating Blue Baby Syndrome was developed in the 1940s
Vivien Theodore Thomas is a co-developer of the first surgical treatment of blue baby syndrome. She came up with a procedure for combating this condition in the 1940s.
5) This condition can be prevented
Yes! Blue baby syndrome can be prevented by ensuring that your baby drinks clean water always and also avoid using water from well in the preparation of their formulas; reducing their intake of nitrate-rich foods; avoid medications such as Sulphonamides and Phenacetin. For mums, it is important to avoid alcohol, narcotics and certain antenatal medicines.
6) Babies younger than 3 months are at the highest risk of developing this condition
Babies within 3 months and below have the highest risk of developing blue baby syndrome. Although, pregnant women, those with peptic ulcer/dialysis/chronic gastritis and some genetic conditions are also at risk.
7) It can be treated
It is a condition that can be treated. Treatment of blue baby syndrome is dependent on the cause. For example, if it is caused by a congenital heart defect, then surgery is imminent. Methylene blue can also be taken to combat it, based on a doctor’s prescription. If the condition resulted from excessive consumption of nitrate-rich water, then it is best to avoid such. You can also visit a toxicologist for advice on which treatment option is most suitable. Similarly, you need to see your doctor for treatment options as well as close monitoring of your baby in order to prevent any complications resulting from this condition.
8) The first blue baby operation was performed in 1944
The first historic operation on a child with blue baby syndrome was performed in 1944 in Johns Hopkins hospital.
Babies who have been diagnosed with Blue Baby Syndrome can live normal, healthy lives, so parents should not berate themselves over this. See your doctor as soon as you notice any of the symptoms of this condition in your baby and it can be handled! Yes, you got this!
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