Symptoms of Meconium Ileus
Babies with meconium ileus may have these symptoms:
- No passing of the first stool (meconium)
- Green vomit (also called bilious because it contains bile, a liquid made in the liver to help digest fats)
- Swollen belly (abdomen), maybe soon after birth
Babies with more complex problems — such as a hole in the intestine (perforation) — may have more serious symptoms, like these:
- Very swollen, painful, red (inflamed) belly
- Breathing problems because pressure from the belly keeps the lungs from filling with air
Meconium Ileus Diagnosis
In some cases, a prenatal ultrasound shows that a baby’s intestine may be blocked. If your doctor suspects your baby’s intestine is blocked before birth, the doctor will refer you to a hospital where a medical team can:
- Monitor your baby’s condition. For instance, you may need monthly ultrasounds. The team will watch for signs of any problems.
- Prepare for birth. The team will put a plan in place to manage your baby’s condition after delivery, if needed.
In most cases, doctors suspect meconium ileus based on signs and symptoms in the first several hours or days after birth. The doctor at Children’s will ask for a detailed history of your baby’s illness and speak to the doctor who sent your baby here. The doctor will do a thorough exam. By pressing on your baby’s belly, the doctor may be able to feel a loop of small intestine filled with meconium.
The doctor will want to have plain X-rays taken of your baby’s belly. X-rays may show enlarged loops of small intestine. Inside the intestine the doctor may see what looks like soap bubbles. These appear when air mixes with meconium.
Your baby will also need to have a lower GI (PDF) (gastrointestinal) series (barium enema). The test is done using X-rays and a contrast agent. The contrast is put into your baby’s rectum and can be seen on X-rays as it travels through your baby’s large intestine (colon). The X-ray may show that the colon is narrower than normal (microcolon) and there’s a blockage near the end of the small intestine.
If your baby has meconium ileus, your doctor will want to test for cystic fibrosis, too.