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Blue Baby
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Do I have a Blue Baby?

There are sometimes a parent my worry if there child has blue baby syndrome. It is a rather easy to test for it at home. Look at your baby. Is he blue? If yes then you have a blue baby. That is really not meant to seem flippant but it really is that easy to tell. Blue baby syndrome is a blanket term for one of a number of cyanotic conditions. In these the most obvious sign is a blueish tinge to the skin.

The blue tinge happens when there is not enough oxygen absorbed into the blood. The lack of dissolved oxygen changes the color of the blood. Well, that is not entirely true. What it does is change the hue of the blood. Fully oxygenated blood is bright red but with the lower oxygen saturation it turns darker. This darker blood looks kind of blue because of the optical characteristics of skin hence the term blue baby syndrome. It is the same reason the lips and finger tips turn blue in drowning victims or that have carbon dioxide/monoxide poisoning.

Cause of blue baby syndrome

There are many reasons for blue baby syndrome. This is because is is not really a disease or disorder but rather it is a symptom. Physicians do not have a fix that works on all babies but it is a clue that something is wrong.

Methemoglobinemia is one major cause. It can be genetic or environmental in nature. Genetically it is pretty straight forward; it is carried by a recessive gene. What that means is that both parents must carry and pass on the gene. If both are are carriers then there is a 1 in 4 chance the child will have it. Some of the most famous cases of it include a family in Kentucky named the Fugates. They became known as the Blue Fugates. A pair of men in Ireland both had it were known as the “blue men of Lurgan” This type of methemoglobinemia can be treated to reduce the cyanosis..

The same condition can also because by pesticides such as DDT or by heavy amounts of nitrogen in the water. Poor water treatment is also a cause and these types can not be treated.

Hydro-plastic left heart syndrome can cause it. The left part of the heart is underdeveloped so there is trouble pumping oxygenated blood. This can sometimes be fixed through surgery but is often fatal. Luckily it is rare. There are also several other types that are related with similar treatments.

Infant respiratory distress syndrome is a more common cause and happens when the lungs did not fully develop. Here the goal is keeping them oxygenated till the lungs can finish developing.

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