Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) is a chronic lung disease that affects preterm babies (especially those born at 22-32 weeks of gestational age with low birth weights), who are put on oxygen and positive-pressure ventilation after birth to help their under-developed lungs to breathe. This lung condition is also known as chronic lung disease of infancy.
1. My baby has been diagnosed with bronchopulmonary dysplasia. What does this mean?
Premature babies are sometimes born with respiratory distress syndrome. It refers to the abnormal development or growth (dysplasia) of the lungs and air passages. Lungs of preterm babies are not fully developed, and a result they are not in a position to make enough surfactant or liquid coating inside the lung that helps keep the lung open to enable breathing. Such babies are often given both Surfactant Replacement Therapy as well as oxygen support through the ventilators or the NCPAP. It is this high pressure of oxygen that results in necrotizing bronchiolitis and alveolar septal injury where their lungs are inflamed and lung tissue is scarred, further compromising oxygenation of blood at times.
2. Besides the rapid, shallow breathing and persistent cough symptoms, what other symptoms should I watch out for?
BPD has a wide range of symptoms that often overlap with symptoms of other respiratory conditions. They are:
• Bluishness of skin (due to low blood oxygen level)
• Shortness of breath
• Crackling, wheezing, grunting sounds while breathing
• Sharp pulling in of the chest below and between the ribs with each breath
• Increased bronchial secretions
• Flaring of the nostrils
• Cor pulmonale (failure of the right side of the heart due to the consistent high blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries and right ventricle)
3. Is bronchopulmonary dysplasia contagious?
No. BPD is a result of a lung condition, not a lung disease. However, the baby may contract lower respiratory tract infections due to the existing lung condition, blood gas levels, low immunity, etc., that may be contagious to other babies.
4. Will my baby have to undergo more tests besides the arterial blood gas test s/he has undergone?