It refers to chronic lung disease.
When babies are born with underdeveloped lungs, they often need treatment from machines that provide pressurized oxygen. Unfortunately, in some cases, these machines can damage the delicate airways of babies. This damage can cause or aggravate respiratory distress syndrome.
Bronchopulmonary dysplasia is the condition that occurs if the symptoms of respiratory distress syndrome continue for more than a month after birth.
Babies with bronchopulmonary dysplasia have inflammation and scarring of their lungs. According to the American Lung Association, there are approximately 10,000 new cases of babies with dysplasia each year in the United States.
Bronchopulmonary dysplasia is most often due to respiratory distress syndrome. This syndrome, in turn, is the result of a specific problem with lung development.
The lungs of some premature babies can not produce enough surfactant. The surfactant is a liquid that covers the inside of the lungs and helps keep them open. These babies need a replacement surfactant and may also need to be placed on a ventilator (breathing machine).
The breathing machine supplies pressurized oxygen at high levels of saturation. If the treatment damages the baby’s lungs and the child still needs respiratory support after a couple of weeks, he will be diagnosed with bronchopulmonary dysplasia.
The risk of bronchopulmonary dysplasia is higher in premature babies with low birth weight (less than 4.5 pounds). These premature babies do not have fully developed lungs when they are born. Full-term babies with lung problems or infections also have an increased risk of developing this disease.
Working much harder than usual to breathe is the main symptom of BPD in babies. Other symptoms include:
- Bluish skin color.
- Breathing very fast.
- Cough or wheezing
- Problems feeding or frequent vomiting.
Doctors usually diagnose bronchopulmonary dysplasia if the symptoms of respiratory distress syndrome last longer than usual. Sometimes doctors use a specific age, 28 days, as a marker.
Doctors can also diagnose dysplasia if respiratory problems continue after the original delivery date of the premature baby.
Doctors will use chest x-rays and detailed observation to diagnose dysplasia in a newborn.
X-rays can reveal that the baby’s lungs look spongy. The doctor can also take a sample of the baby’s blood to assess arterial blood gases (the amount of oxygen in the baby’s blood).
Babies with dysplasia will be in an incubator in the intensive care unit to help prevent infection until they are strong enough to breathe independently. Either a ventilator or a continuous nasal positive pressure machine in the airways will supply the oxygen.
A doctor will slowly wean a baby from the ventilator in some cases. They can also use alternative low-pressure ventilation devices. These can reduce the risk of lung damage.
Bronchodilators, such as albuterol can help keep the baby’s airway open.
Diuretics, such as furosemide can reduce fluid accumulation in the lungs by preventing the child’s body from retaining water. Antibiotics can help prevent infection: babies with dysplasia are prone to lung infections, such as pneumonia.
Steroids can reduce inflammation. However, patients should only use them in low doses and short periods. They can have serious side effects and affect the child’s mental and physical development.
If the child needs extra calories because he is working hard to breathe, a high-calorie formula may be necessary. The child will receive nutrition through an intravenous line if they can not digest food normally.
Most of the treatment occurs in the hospital. The affected baby may need to stay in a neonatal intensive care unit until the doctors no longer worry about breathing problems.
Bronchopulmonary dysplasia can cause complications. Babies with this condition have an increased risk of aspiration (when food enters the lungs). They also have an increased risk of developing breathing difficulties after colds and other respiratory illnesses.