Eighteen children aged 6 to 11 years old who fulfilled criteria for the diagnosis of neonatal meconium aspiration syndrome were investigated to find out the prevalence of previous and current respiratory symptoms, and abnormal pulmonary function tests, chest radiographs, and ventilation scans. Eleven of the 18 had no respiratory symptoms and eight of these had normal pulmonary function on testing. Two had mild limitation of expiratory airflow that did not respond to treatment with bronchodilators, and one had exercise induced bronchospasm that responded to treatment with bronchodilators. Seven of the 18 had recurrent cough and wheezing compatible with a diagnosis of asthma, and five of these had appreciable exercise induced bronchospasm that responded to treatment with bronchodilators. None of the children with symptoms had a personal or family history of atopy or had had acute bronchiolitis. All chest radiographs were normal. We found a much higher prevalence of asthmatic symptoms and abnormal bronchial reactivity among survivors of neonatal meconium aspiration syndrome than in the general childhood population. Aspiration of meconium may have long term consequences for the developing respiratory tract and is associated with abnormal respiratory function in later childhood.
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