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Why Is A Baby Blue When Born?

Updated on July 28, 2014
Why Is A Baby Blue When It Is Born?
Why Is A Baby Blue When It Is Born?

Why Is A Baby Blue At Birth?

Babies are born all different shapes and sizes, covered in differing amounts of blood and coated in vernix caseosa, a white substance which is said to act as an antibacterial barrier.

Newborns are not always born with perfect skin and may have birth marks, cylindrical head shapes and even be born blue. Their brand-new skin is delicate and thin and their veins are more easily seen.

Whilst most babies are pinkish, others are not. The blue color we see can be frightening and in some cases it is cause for concern. In other instances, it is a momentarily phase common with birth.

So why is a baby blue at birth?

What Is A Blue Baby Called?

There are two very different reasons why babies can be born blue, and each with a different name and cause for concern.

A blue baby can be called a cyanotic baby. There are a few different things that can cause cyanosis in newborns, however prominently it is a congenital heart defect. This is a true "blue baby". This is a serious condition.

In is not uncommon to have a baby born with blue extremities. This is typically completely benign and is known as acrocyanosis.

Blue Baby At Birth - Cyanotic

If a baby is born with a blue appearance, considered cyanotic and not crying, these are signs of respiratory or cardiac distress. In these instances, the baby's heart is not pumping blood efficiently enough and the baby isn't getting enough oxygen. This will cause the baby to appear blue as de-oxygenated blood is a much darker, almost purple colour than blood with oxygen.

Blue Baby At Birth - Acrocyanosis

Babies receive their blood supply through their mother via the placenta. After being born, even though the baby's heart has taken over circulation, the umbilical cord is still pulsating because it is still receiving the very last little bit of blood from the mother.

Normal, healthy, babies are born pink and screaming however some are born more purple than others because there is some minor oxygen deprivation, usually due to the difficulties they may have experienced crowning, their position and even because of them having the umbilical cord around their neck. These are all temporary issues which are resolved almost instantaneously and once the oxygen returns the baby's blood returns to red and their skin returns to a pink color.

Babies Born With Blue Eyes

Are all babies born with blue eyes? And do you know when babies eyes change color?

Why Are Babies Blue - Myths And Facts

Myth: Babies are born blue because their blood is blue.

Fact: Blood is never blue. Blood is always red, sometimes a different shade of red depending on the oxygen levels present, but always red. Often it is shown in diagrams as being blue to symbolize the un-oxygenated blood which is really a dark red almost purple in color. Veins take on the appearance of being blue because of the way our eyes perceive color and the way light reflects.

Delayed Cord Clamping

The delayed cord clamping discussion is one worth having. Just because a baby is breathing on its own does not mean that they are essentially getting 100% of the oxygen they need. Having the placenta still attached to pump oxygenated blood to the newborn is said to help the baby significantly and they in turn tend to pink up far more quickly than those whose cord is cut immediately.


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      Susan 4 years ago from India

      Very informative hub. You have written everything so clearly. Thank you for sharing. Voted up and useful.