Persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN) of the newborn is a relatively rare, yet potentially very serious condition. It can cause both immediate and long-term complications and health concerns. PPHN affects approximately one in every 500-1500 births.
When a baby is in the womb, the oxygen is supplied through the umbilical cord.
After birth, the baby's system should switch to receive oxygen from the lungs. In babies born with PPHN, the heart, blood vessels, and lungs (circulatory system) do not make the adjustment. When babies with PPHN are born, the blood does not interact with the lungs, and instead circulates as it did in
Babies with PPHN do not receive the necessary oxygen from the lungs that is normally supplied.
Symptoms of PPHN typically appear within 12 hours after birth.
Pulse oximetry (monitoring the percentage of hemoglobin saturated with oxygen)
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment for PPHN is typically administered by a neonatologist, a doctor who specializes in newborn illnesses. Treatment begins with correcting any predisposing condition such as low blood sugar, administering oxygen, preventing low blood pressure, and correcting low blood pH. Treatment options include:
To increase the amount of oxygen to the baby's lungs, a tube may be placed directly into the trachea. A ventilator administers the oxygen into the tube, and breathes for the baby.
may relax blood vessels and improve circulation.
There are a number of novel medication strategies that are currently under investigation. For example,
(eg Viagra®) has been studied in small numbers of patients with overall positive results. However, studies with larger numbers are needed to confirm the drug’s effectiveness and safety.
Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO)
Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation requires major surgery. It is typically only performed on the most serious cases of PPHN when the patient has not responded to other treatments. In ECMO, a machine acts as an artificial heart and lungs to the baby so that the natural organs can heal.
Because in many cases the cause of PPHN is unknown or uncontrollable, there is no completely effective method of preventing PPHN. However, proper prenatal care and good health of the mother during pregnancy can reduce the risk of some causes of PPHN.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a