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Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN)

What is Persistent Pulmonary Hypertensionof the Newborn (PPHN)?

PPHN is a life-threatening condition in which the newborns suffer from serious breathing problems. This condition usually occurs in full-term babies or those who were born at 34 weeks or more. During pregnancy, the baby takes its oxygen from its mother & the placenta. The blood vessels in the baby’s lungs are closed and therefore, hardly any blood flows through them. But when the baby is born and takes his/her first breath, these blood vessels open thereby allowing the blood to travel to lungs to get oxygen. In few cases, these blood vessels don’t open completely and limit the oxygen that can reach brain and other organs. This is known as PPHN which is a very dangerous condition.


What are the risk factors for Persistent Pulmonary Hypertensionof the Newborn (PPHN)?

Some of the risk factors for PPHN include:

  • Meconium aspiration (this happens when baby inhales its own sticky poop)
  • Birth depression
  • Infection
  • Low body temperature
  • Lack of oxygen before or during birth
  • Congenital disorders that leads to underdeveloped lungs
  • Congenital heart disease


What are the symptoms of Persistent Pulmonary Hypertensionof the Newborn (PPHN)?

The most common symptoms of PPHN are:

  • Breathing problems like rapid breathing, grunting or moaning
  • Bluish coloured skin
  • Hands and feet that are cool to touch
  • Low blood pressure
  • Low level of oxygen


How can Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN) be treated?

The goal of treatment for PPHN is to improve oxygen levels in the blood, maintain a normal blood pressure and keep the blood vessels in lungs relaxed. For this, your doctor may recommend following treatment options:

  • Oxygen therapy
  • Use of nitric oxide
  • Ventilator
  • Temporary heart-lung bypass