Chronic diseases of the newborn

Chronic diseases of the newborn

Also called bronchopulmonary dysplasia.

Content Summary

  • What is?
  • Causes and risk factors
  • Symptoms
  • Diagnosis
  • Evolution and treatment
  • Prevention

What is?

It is a lung disease that affects premature newborns or those who required assisted ventilation at birth.

Causes and risk factors

It is a typical affectation of very premature babies or those who have received high concentrations of oxygen for a long time and who have needed artificial ventilation.

Risk factor’s:

  • Prematurity (especially those born before 32 weeks of gestation)
  • Lung infection at birth
  • congenital heart disease
  • The administration of high concentrations of oxygen to newborns
  • assisted ventilation


Babies present cyanosis (bluish color of the skin due to the fact that a correct oxygenation of the organism is not carried out); they also have a cough and shortness of breath: they breathe quickly and with a lot of effort.

In these babies it is difficult to withdraw oxygen or assisted ventilation; On the one hand, it is necessary for its treatment and, on the other, it worsens the chronic lung disease of the newborn.


To confirm the disease, a determination of oxygen in the blood and an imaging test are performed: chest X-ray and CT.

Evolution and treatment

Treatment, depending on the severity of the bronchopulmonary dysplasia, can range from just using oxygen to helping the baby breathe with assisted ventilation.

Medicines that help improve the baby’s lung conditions may also be necessary: ​​corticosteroids, diuretics, bronchodilators and pulmonary surfactant. In the treatment of these babies, good nutrition with extra calories is essential, since they have so much difficulty breathing that they spend a lot of energy. Recovery for these babies is slow and they often need oxygen for many months after discharge from the hospital.

When these babies go home they may very well be carrying oxygen ; It is important to avoid viral respiratory infections in these children, since it can affect them more seriously:

  • Wash your hands very well when touching the baby
  • Avoid contact with the baby if the person has a cold or fever
  • Avoid smoking in front of the baby
  • Little contact with other children (viral diseases are very common in children)

In the most serious cases, the consequences can be lifelong or cause the death of the baby.


Prevention is often complicated. The ideal would be to avoid premature birth as much as possible and minimize the time of assisted ventilation in babies who need it.

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