Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia

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Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), also called chronic lung disease (CLD), is a long-term respiratory condition that affects children born prematurely. The pediatric pulmonologists with Norton Children’s Pulmonology, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, have the training and expertise to care for children with bronchiolitis.

What Is Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia (BPD)?

Premature babies born earlier than 34 weeks and weighing less than 4 pounds, 6 ounces, are more likely to have infant respiratory distress syndrome (RDS). RDS causes rapid, shallow breathing and a sharp pulling in of the chest below and between the ribs with each breath.

Babies with RDS need a mechanical ventilator and extra oxygen to breathe on their own. Since the growing lungs in these babies are very fragile, they may be injured in this process, causing inflammation and possible scarring in the lungs. If these symptoms persist, then the condition is classified as BPD if the baby is dependent on oxygen at 36 weeks.

Additionally, a baby may develop BPD if:

  • There is a family history of asthma
  • They have a patent ductus arteriosus
  • They experience pulmonary interstitial emphysema, a lung condition in which air leaks from the airways into spaces between the small air sacs
  • The mother experiences an infection in her womb

Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia Treatment

The pediatric pulmonologists with Norton Children’s Pulmonology work with neonatologists in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) to evaluate and manage a baby’s oxygen and medication needs to promote lung growth. Treatments may include:

  • Oxygen therapy
  • Medications to support lung function
    • Bronchodilators to help keep the airways open
    • Diuretics to reduce fluid buildup in the lungs
    • Steroids to reduce inflammation (severe cases only)
    • Antibiotics to care for bacterial infections in the lungs
    • Surfactant, a natural lubricant that improves breathing function
  • Nutritional therapy

We also help parents understand BPD and how to manage the condition when their child goes home. Even after leaving the hospital, babies with BPD may need continued medicines, breathing treatments and oxygen at home.

As children with BPD grow, they will need to be monitored, as they are more likely to develop asthma or wheezing. Additionally, they are more at risk for complications from common respiratory conditions, such as the flu and RSV. Identifying and treating issues early can help prevent further complications to lung function.

Pediatric Pulmonary Center

Our center specializes in caring for children with any type of respiratory disorder. Careful consideration is given to prescribe the best possible method of therapy following nationally accepted guidelines for treating bronchopulmonary dysplasia, where applicable.

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