What is persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn? — Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn is a rare condition that causes serious breathing problems in newborns. It happens when the blood vessels that carry blood to the lungs do not widen like they should after birth.
What are the symptoms of persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn? — The symptoms include:
●In babies with light skin, the skin or lips look blue.
●In babies with dark skin, the lips look blue or darker than normal.
●The fluid that surrounded the baby during delivery is stained with a bowel movement (called “meconium”) from the baby.
Will my baby need tests? — Yes. The main test is an “echocardiogram.” This is an imaging test that uses sound waves to create pictures of the heart as it beats. But your baby might need other tests, including:
●Electrocardiogram –This test measures the electrical activity of the heart. It is also called an “ECG” or “EKG.”
How is persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn treated? — Treatments include:
●Oxygen – Oxygen can be given different ways, including through:
•A plastic hood put over the baby’s head
•2 plastic tubes put in the baby’s nostrils
•A mask over the baby’s mouth and nose in a treatment called “continuous positive airway pressure” or CPAP.
●Breathing support – The doctor will put a tube in your baby’s throat. The tube connects to a machine that helps your baby breathe. This machine is called a “ventilator.”
●Nitrous oxide – This is a gas that is given through the ventilator. It helps widen the baby’s blood vessels.
●ECMO – ECMO is a special treatment that is done only for very serious cases that do not get better with other treatments. During the treatment, the baby is connected to a machine that takes the baby’s blood out little by little, adds oxygen to it, and then returns it to the baby.
What will my baby’s life be like? — Many babies with persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn have normal lives. But babies with very serious forms of the condition or who need ECMO might have hearing problems or “developmental delays.” This means they take longer to do things other children the same age can do, such as walking and talking.