||The English used in this article may not be easy for everybody to understand. (March 2012)|
Blue Baby Syndrome is an illness. It is also called methemoglobinemia. It begins when a baby drinks water that has a lot of nitrates in it. (A nitrate is a molecule made up of nitrogen and oxygen.) The baby's digestive system changes the nitrates into nitrites. Nitrites are similar to nitrates. However, the nitrites react with oxyhemoglobin (the proteins in the baby's blood which carry oxygen). This reaction creates metheglobin, which cannot carry oxygen. This is a problem, because every part of the body needs oxygen to be healthy and to stay alive. If enough metheglobin is formed in the blood, body tissues may not get enough oxygen. This causes the infant's mucous membranes to become blue in color. The baby may have problems with his digestive system, which is in charge of digesting food and getting nutrition out of the food. The baby may also have problems with his respiratory system, which is in charge of breathing.
Baby Blue Syndrome usually happens in places where water is not regulated (or watched over and controlled by the government), like Africa and some parts of Asia.