Meconium ileus is an ailment where an infant’s first feces, termed meconium, prevents the infant’s small intestine’s final segment (ileum). This condition may occur if the meconium is more viscous and sticky than usual.

As the baby ingests everything, the small intestine above the obstruction expands. Small intestine loops may move out (distend) the baby’s belly (abdomen). The large intestine (colon) is smaller than average under the obstruction. It could even be unoccupied or filled with tiny pieces of dried meconium or mucus plugs from the intestine lining.

Doctors generally presume meconium ileus based on symptoms found within a few hours or days after birth.


Babies with meconium ileus may show the following symptoms:

  • Incapacity to pass gas
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Swollen stomach (belly), potentially soon after birth
  • Feeling of fullness

Babies in more complex situations, including intestinal perforation, may develop severe symptoms, such as the following:

  • Swollen, painful, and red (inflamed) stomach


A prenatal ultrasound may reveal that a baby’s intestine is clogged in some instances. If your physician determines that your baby’s intestine is obstructed before birth, you will be referred to a hospital in which a medical team could observe your baby’s health at all times. You may require monthly ultrasounds. Likewise, the team will be on the lookout for any signs of danger.

If necessary, the medical team will formulate a plan to handle your baby’s situation after delivery. Also, an X-ray of the baby’s tummy will be performed to demonstrate enlarged small intestine loops. CT Scan and Ultrasound may also be required to provide more detailed images. If it becomes positive, cystic fibrosis tests are requested by doctors.


Surgical intervention is required for babies who have meconium ileus. The surgeon will examine the patient for indications of more severe issues. Surgeons can use an enema to clear meconium ileus in some cases.

A surgical procedure is required for several babies to clear the obstruction. In more complex situations, such as those involving an opening in the intestinal wall (perforation), surgical treatment will be needed to eliminate the meconium ileus and resolve other intestinal issues.

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