Chronic Lung Disease

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Chronic lung disease (CLD), also called bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), 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 chronic lung disease of infancy.

What Is Chronic Lung Disease?

Premature babies born earlier than 34 weeks and weighing less than 4 pounds, 6 ounces, are more likely to have chronic lung disease (CLD) of infancy. CLD causes rapid, shallow breathing and a sharp pulling in of the chest below and between the ribs with each breath. Babies with CLD may need a mechanical ventilator and extra oxygen to breathe on their own.

Additionally, a baby may develop CLD 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

Chronic Lung Disease Treatment

The pediatric pulmonologists with Norton Children’s Pulmonology work with neonatologists in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) to evaluate and manage the baby’s condition 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 CLD and how to manage the condition when their child goes home. Even after leaving the hospital, babies with CLD may need continued medicines, breathing treatments and oxygen at home.

As children with CLD 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 for 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 CLD, where applicable.

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