Meconium aspiration and fetal acidosis

Obstet Gynecol. 1985 Mar;65(3):352-5.


Meconium in labor is associated with increased perinatal morbidity and mortality. To identify the infants at risk, 53 women with moderate-to-thick meconium were followed in labor after obtaining baseline fetal scalp blood pH levels. Although 28 of the newborns (53%) exhibited an arterial cord pH of less than 7.25 at delivery, there were no significant predictive variables found in the electronic fetal monitoring score, Apgar score, or mode of delivery. Nine of the infants with a pH value of less than 7.25 had meconium below the vocal cords at delivery, but none in the infants with pH levels greater than or equal to 7.25. The P50 value for cumulative acidosis is 55 minutes, indicating a more rapid deterioration than an average-for-gestational-age fetus without meconium. Therefore, the presence of thick meconium implies that fetal stress must be avoided during labor, and early intervention is warranted when there is deviation from normal labor progress or fetal heart rate pattern.

MeSH terms

  • Acidosis / complications
  • Acidosis / metabolism*
  • Acidosis / physiopathology
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Fetal Blood / metabolism
  • Fetal Diseases / metabolism*
  • Fetal Heart / physiopathology
  • Fetal Monitoring
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Inhalation*
  • Meconium / metabolism
  • Meconium / physiology*
  • Pneumonia, Aspiration / etiology
  • Pneumonia, Aspiration / physiopathology
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Diagnosis*
  • Respiration*