Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) is a chronic lung disease that can happen in newborns and babies. It can make it hard to breathe.
Infant Airway and Lungs
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BPD is caused by damage or injury to immature lungs from mechanical ventilation or long-term use of oxygen.
BPD is more common in premature babies whose lungs are still developing. It is also more common in babies who have a very low birth weight. Other things that may raise the risk are:
- Long-term use or injury from oxygen therapy or a ventilator
- Infection or inflammation before or after birth, such as neonatal sepsis
- Genetic problems that involve the lungs
- Respiratory distress syndrome
(RDS)—a lung disorder often affecting premature babies that causes problems breathing
Symptoms may be:
- Fast, shallow breathing
- Problems breathing
- A chest that sinks in between the ribs or under the ribcage with each breath
- Wheezing or noisy breathing
- Blue skin color
You will be asked about your baby's symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on the lungs.
Blood tests may be done to look for genetic problems.
The baby’s lung function may be tested. This can be done with:
- Pulse oximetry monitoring that uses an oxygen sensor on the baby's foot to find out how much oxygen is making it into the blood from the lungs
- Pulmonary function tests to find out how well the lungs are working
Images may be taken. This can be done with:
Treatment options for BPD include:
Supportive care may be needed, such as:
- Oxygen or breathing support until a baby is stronger and can breathe well enough without help.
- Nutrition therapy with a special formula or by IV or a feeding tube
Medicine may be needed, such as:
- Surfactants to help the baby’s lungs expand the way they should
- Antibiotics to treat infection
- Bronchodilators to make it easier for air to get in and out of the lungs
- Corticosteroids to ease swelling and inflammation of the airways
- Diuretics to help remove extra fluid from the lungs
There are no guidelines to prevent BPD. Proper prenatal care during pregnancy may help lower the risk.
Last reviewed September 2019 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Kari Kassir, MD
Last Updated: 7/29/2020