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The Blue Baby Syndrome

Nitrate poisoning in humans


Blue Baby Syndrome or Methemoglobinemia is caused by decreased ability of blood to carry oxygen, resulting in oxygen deficiency in different body parts. Infants are more susceptible than adults. The disease can be caused by intake of water and vegetables high in nitrate, exposure to chemicals containing nitrate, or can even be hereditary. Groundwater gets contaminated by leaching of nitrate generated from fertilizer used in agricultural lands and waste dumps in rural and urban areas. Prevention of water contamination, abstention from drinking contaminated water and controlling nitrate levels in drinking water by water treatment are effective preventive measures against nitrate poisoning.

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Suggested Reading

  1. T M Addiscott, A P Whitmore and D S Powlson,Farming, Fertilizers and the Nitrate Problem, CAB International Wallingford, Oxon., 1991.

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Correspondence to Deepanjan Majumdar.

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Majumdar, D. The Blue Baby Syndrome. Reson 8, 20–30 (2003).

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  • Cyanosis
  • hemoglobin
  • infants
  • methemoglobinemia
  • nitrate