Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia

Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) is abnormal development of the lungs in infants. It is considered a chronic lung disease. BPD can make it difficult for the infant to breathe. The condition usually develops in the first four weeks after birth. BPD occurs most often in infants that were born early with immature lungs. Most babies who get BPD recover. However, this is a serious condition that needs care from your doctor.

  • Causes

    The exact cause of BPD is unknown. It is most often associated with complication of early lung disease or their treatments. These conditions or treatments can cause irritation and swelling of lungs and airways. This can lead to BPD.

  • Definition

    Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) is abnormal development of the lungs in infants. It is considered a chronic lung disease. BPD can make it difficult for the infant to breathe. The condition usually develops in the first four weeks after birth.

    BPD occurs most often in infants that were born early with immature lungs. Most babies who get BPD recover. However, this is a serious condition that needs care from your doctor.

    Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia
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  • Diagnosis


    Your doctor will review your infant’s medical history. A physical exam will be done. Your doctor may do the following tests:

    • Arterial blood gas test
      —a small amount of blood is drawn to determine how much oxygen is in it
    • Chest x-ray
      —radiation is used to take a picture of the inside of the chest
    • Chest CT scan
      —a type of x-ray, which uses a computer to create images of structures inside the chest
    • Pulse-oximetry monitoring—a piece of tape containing an oxygen sensor is placed on the infant’s foot; it will tell the doctor how well the lungs are working

  • Prevention


    There are no set guidelines for preventing BPD. However, there are some things you can do to decrease the risk of a premature birth and ensure you will give birth to a healthy infant such as:

    • Eat a healthful diet. Opt for foods low in saturated fat and rich in low-fat dairy. Choose lean protein sources. Include plenty of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables in your diet.
    • Have early and regular prenatal check-ups.
    • Don’t smoke. If you smoke, quit.
    • Avoid drugs and alcohol.

  • Risk Factors


    Factors that increase your infant’s risk of developing BPD include:

    • Any severe illness requiring oxygen therapy and/or the use of a ventilator for an extended time
    • Respiratory distress syndrome
      (RDS)—a lung disorder often affecting premature babies that causes difficulty with breathing
    • Collapsed lung
    • Premature birth
    • Immature lungs
    • High blood pressure
    • Congenital heart diseases that cause excess blood flow through the lungs such as patent ductus arteriosus
    • Tracheomalacia
    • Subglottic stenosis
    • Infections
    • Pneumonia

  • Symptoms


    These symptoms are common with RDS. However, they may be caused by a number of health conditions.
    If your infant has any of these symptoms call your doctor.

    • Rapid, shallow breathing
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Retractions—with each breath, the chest appears to sink in between the ribs or under the ribcage
    • Cough
    • See-saw breathing–movement of the chest and stomach in opposite directions with each breath
    • Wheezing or noisy breathing
    • Wet or cracking sound in the lungs, heard with a stethoscope
    • Raising or stretching the neck to push more air into the lungs
    • Poor posture of the trunk, shoulders, and neck
    • Bluish color to the skin
    • Slower than average growth rate

  • Treatment

    There is no specific treatment for BPD. The main focus is to treat any symptoms. If needed, treatment may include support for your infant's breathing. This will help the infant get strong and allow the lungs to mature.

    Your infant will most likely be treated in a hospital. He or she may need to stay in the hospital for an extended period of time. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for your infant. Treatment options include the following:


    If your infant is diagnosed with BPD, follow your doctor's
    instructions
    .