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Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia

All preterm babies (especially the very small ones) are at the risk of developing bronchopulmonary dysplasia or BPD because of immature lungs, infection and the prolonged need for supplemental oxygen and or mechanical ventilation. BPD symptoms can last from few months to a few years. Proper nutrition and sufficient oxygen can protect the lungs and prevent respiratory illnesses. Though the condition in the preemie improves with time as the lungs mature, babies with BPD are at an increased risk for respiratory infections.

Did you know

• According to experts a child will outgrow BPD when the lungs outgrow old tissues and new tissues take over the function of the damaged ones. The growth of new lung tissues continues until age eight and even more

• A child who will need oxygen beyond 36 weeks gestational age and/or for more than 4 weeks after being born is considered to have BPD.

• Fortunately preemies lungs heal much sooner. Unfortunately even with new lung tissue some children continue to exhibit signs of BPD. But with proper nutrition and adequate oxygen, the lungs receive the necessary protection to prevent the frequency of respiratory illnesses.

• Babies with BPD usually gain weight slowly and are subject to apnea

BPD Symptoms

Chest retracts when breathing: Retractions are the spaces you notice between or below the ribs and/or at the top of the chest in front of the neck when the child breathes. Caused by stiff lungs, retractions can occur occasionally, intermittently when the child is unwell or on everyday basis.

Breathing rate is increased: A child with BPD when ill or kept too warm will have an increased breathing rate which can be observed while the child is sleeping.

Wheezing: This is the high-pitched sound produced when the child exhales. The lungs are working harder just to push out the air. Wheezing can occur when your preterm baby is unwell, when there is an inflammation of the lungs or when the lungs are exposed to irritants such as cigarette smoke. Wheezing is known to occur intermittently or on a daily basis.

Coughing helps to expel the accumulated mucus that collects in the lungs and makes breathing difficult. Coughing tends to occur when there is extra mucus in the lungs, if the child is refluxing or when the child has a respiratory illness.

The need for supplemental oxygen: Since a child with BPD cannot keep the oxygen saturation at an appropriate level, he may require supplemental oxygen. Fortunately the need for oxygen drops as the lungs heal. Supplemental oxygen is very important for baby's lungs and overall growth

Feeding problems: Feeding difficulties do not manifest in all children with BPD but many face this problem. Because breathing is hard work and doing both breathing and eating at the same time can be really tedious on the child, many babies with BPD face feeding problems. Preemies will require additional calories to compensate for the energy spent on doing both tasks.

Treatment for BPD

Oxygen Therapy: Even after coming home babies with the more severe BPD will require supplemental oxygen. For preemies with BPD who are not gaining weight adequately, added oxygen will be prescribed to help the baby gain weight as he develops new lung tissue. Supplemental oxygen may be given on doctor's instructions throughout the day or during feeding and sleeping time for a period of time (again at your doctor's discretion).

Medications: Many preemies with BPD face a tightening and narrowing of the airways called bronchoconstriction. Medications can be given on a daily basis or on a need-to basis, in both liquid and pill form. Bronchodilators are medications given to relax the muscle bands and open up the airways. A child may be on a bronchodilator on a daily basis or intermittently during a respiratory illness.

Steroid medications
are commonly administered to reduce lung inflammation and make breathing simpler. They are particularly helpful to ease the periodic wheezing and coughing and given through a hand-held inhaler.

Diuretics are medications given daily to remove excess fluid through elimination via the kidneys. Extra fluid in the lungs will interfere with the oxygen flow.

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Disclaimer: Information contained on this Web site is intended solely to make available general summarized information to the public. It should not be substituted for medical advice. It is your responsibility to consult with your pediatrician and/or health care provider before acting on any advice on this web site. While OEM endeavors to provide up-to-date and accurate information, it is not liable for any advice whatsoever rendered nor is it liable for the completeness or timeliness of any information on this site.
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