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Chronic Lung Disease in Infants


Chronic lung disease, or bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), is a condition that causes breathing problems in newborns, usually those who are born too early (prematurely). The lungs may trap air or collapse, fill with fluid, and make extra mucus.

A newborn with chronic lung disease may grunt and wheeze, breathe rapidly, and flare the nostrils. The baby also may have skin that stretches between or under the ribs while the baby breathes in. And he or she may tire easily during feedings. The newborn's skin may look gray, pale, or blotchy. These symptoms may appear as early as 3 days after the baby is born.

There is no one test to diagnose chronic lung disease. A doctor may first suspect it if a baby has trouble breathing and requires extra oxygen for a certain amount of time.

Treatment depends on how severe the condition is. Treatment usually includes oxygen therapy and sometimes using a ventilator as well as medicines and nutritional therapy. Treatment does not cure chronic lung disease. But it helps a newborn breathe more easily while the lungs mature and heal on their own.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerSarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerJennifer Merchant, MD - Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine
Last RevisedApril 27, 2011

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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