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Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia – Five Questions That You Should Ask Your Doctor

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Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) is a chronic lung disease that affects preterm babies (especially those born at 22-32 weeks of gestational age with low birth weights), who are put on oxygen and positive-pressure ventilation after birth to help their under-developed lungs to breathe. This lung condition is also known as chronic lung disease of infancy.

1. My baby has been diagnosed with bronchopulmonary dysplasia. What does this mean?
Premature babies are sometimes born with respiratory distress syndrome. It refers to the abnormal development or growth (dysplasia) of the lungs and air passages. Lungs of preterm babies are not fully developed, and a result they are not in a position to make enough surfactant or liquid coating inside the lung that helps keep the lung open to enable breathing. Such babies are often given both Surfactant Replacement Therapy as well as oxygen support through the ventilators or the NCPAP. It is this high pressure of oxygen that results in necrotizing bronchiolitis and alveolar septal injury where their lungs are inflamed and lung tissue is scarred, further compromising oxygenation of blood at times.

2. Besides the rapid, shallow breathing and persistent cough symptoms, what other symptoms should I watch out for?
BPD has a wide range of symptoms that often overlap with symptoms of other respiratory conditions. They are:
• Bluishness of skin (due to low blood oxygen level)
• Shortness of breath
• Crackling, wheezing, grunting sounds while breathing
• Sharp pulling in of the chest below and between the ribs with each breath
• Increased bronchial secretions
• Flaring of the nostrils
• Cor pulmonale (failure of the right side of the heart due to the consistent high blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries and right ventricle)

3. Is bronchopulmonary dysplasia contagious?
No. BPD is a result of a lung condition, not a lung disease. However, the baby may contract lower respiratory tract infections due to the existing lung condition, blood gas levels, low immunity, etc., that may be contagious to other babies.

4. Will my baby have to undergo more tests besides the arterial blood gas test s/he has undergone?
There is a high possibility that the doctors may carry out more tests to try and rule out other conditions that exhibit similar symptoms as BPD and may want to carry differential diagnostic tests for meconium aspiration syndrome, bronchiolitis obliterans, asthma, recurrent aspiration, congenital heart disease, cystic and pulmonary fibrosis, and other infections.

Primary diagnosis of BPD is done through:
• Chest X-ray to enable the doctors to see the structure of the heart and lungs, signs of inflammation or infection in the lungs, a collapsed lung and/or extent of lung development.
• Pulse oximetry to help monitor oxygenation of the baby's hemoglobin
• Electrocardiogram to assess right ventricular hypertrophy
• Bronchoscopy to check the underlying conditions causing the lung condition
• Echocardiogram to detect pulmonary hypertension
• Pulmonary function testing that helps the doctor assess the success of the interventions
• Blood gases test to follow the degree of hypoxia and hypercapnia

5. How long will s/he take to recover?
BPD babies may spend several weeks or months in the hospital to be able to get the adequate care they need.


Mamta Singh is a published author of the books Migraines for the Informed Woman (Publisher: Rupa & Co.) and the upcoming Rev Up Your Life! (Publisher: Hay House India). She is also a seasoned business, creative and academic writer. She is a certified fitness instructor, personal trainer & sports nutritionist through IFA, Florida USA. Mamta is an NCFE-certified Holistic Health Therapist SAC Dip U.K. She is the lead writer and holds Expert Author status in many well-received health, fitness and nutrition sites. She runs her own popular blogs on migraines in women and holistic health. Mamta holds a double Master's Degree in Commerce and Business. She is a registered practitioner with the UN recognised Art of Living Foundation. Link: http://www.migrainingjenny.wordpress.com and http://www.footstrike.wordpress.com

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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