Blue Baby Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Knoji reviews products and up-and-coming brands we think you'll love. In certain cases, we may receive a commission from brands mentioned in our guides. Learn more.
Blue baby syndrome is a rare disorder which is associated with a host of congenital anomalies. The characterstic symptoms associated with the condition can be treated based on the cause for the blue baby syndrome. This article provides a breif insight int

Blue Baby Syndrome develops when the blood fails to transport and convey adequate amounts of oxygen through the body. The disorder may be inherited; or acquired as a consequence to undue exposure to antibiotics, nitrates and deadly chemicals found in food and water.

Blue baby syndrome develops when there occurs an elevation in the concentration of methemoglobin, a non oxygen carrying enzyme that is synthesized by the body that is transformed in to hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying enzyme, by an enzyme known as the methemoglobin reductase. 6 months and younger babies have minuscule quantities of this enzyme; thus, the condition gets triggered when the baby is exposed to the triggers.

Blue Baby Syndrome Symptoms

  • Blue discoloration of the skin: Increase in the levels of methemoglobin in the blood results in a decrease in the amount of oxygen. Accordingly, the skin, fingernails and lips become blue. A general bluish discoloration is seen at birth, in inherited Blue Baby Syndrome, whilst, in acquired Blue Baby Syndrome, the blue discoloration develops rapidly, and is accompanied by gasping, breathlessness, weariness, fatigue and lassitude and reduced alertness.
  • Difficulty in breathing: Elevation of methemoglobin makes the baby less alert, sluggish, and exhausted. Respiratory distress results in difficult and labored. Increased salivation, convulsions and unconsciousness may occur as well.
  • Delayed development: The brain receives little oxygen, thus, mental and physical development is somewhat delayed, seizures may occur, and there may be mental degeneration.

Blue Baby Syndrome Causes

Blue Baby Syndrome develops when the level of methemoglobin in the blood increases, which occurs because of contamination of the ground water by nitrates (generated by the fertilizers, insecticides, etc.), resulting in a reduction in the oxygen carrying capability of hemoglobin.

A defect in the heart is another common cause. Heart disorders that could set off Blue Baby Syndrome include:

  • Tetralogy of fallot
  • Tricuspid atresia
  • Hypo-plastic left heart syndrome
  • Dextro-transposition of the great arteries

Blue Baby Syndrome Treatment

Prompt diagnosis and instant treatment are very crucial for the successful management of the case. The doctor will order blood tests, X ray and ECG to ascertain the right diagnosis.

Treatment depends on the etiological factor for the disorder and the intensity of clinical symptoms. Methemoglobinemia can be easily handled with medicines. Severe heart defects need specific drugs and / or heart surgery.

The treatment schedule comprises of: drugs, watchful monitoring and open heart surgery. Shunting, arterial switch operation, Fontan procedure and Damus-Kaye-Stansel technique are the commonly conducted surgeries. These are invasive heart surgeries, and are not always required.


Posted on Dec 26, 2011
Abdel-moniem El-Shorbagy
Posted on Oct 3, 2011