Management of Meconium-Stained Newborns in the Delivery Room

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The approach to the management of meconium-stained newborns in the delivery room has been changing for over 40 years. The goal is to prevent meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS) and complications related to MAS. For decades, airway obstruction was believed to be a major component of MAS and, consequently, suction maneuvers to remove meconium from the airways were recommended to decrease the frequency and severity of MAS. Initial recommendations were based on observational studies. However, the incidence of MAS and mortality related to MAS has declined since the 1970s, mostly because of a decrease in the number of postterm deliveries. Recently updated guidelines by the American Heart Association and the Neonatal Resuscitation Program have reflected the strength of evidence supporting tracheal intubation and suctioning for nonvigorous, meconium-stained newborns. This article examines practice change since the 1970s in the delivery room management of meconium-stained newborns and evaluates evidence behind the changes.

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