Persistent pulmonary hypertension in babies occurs when the normal cardiopulmonary transition fails outside the womb. It is a life-threatening condition for infants. It is a situation where the blood flow that leaves the heart faces an increased pressure. This kind of healthy condition is common among newborns and this can also lead to the abnormal rhythm of the heart because the right ventricle of the heart is so stretched out. Babies who have persistent pulmonary hypertension are hard to manage and are exceptionally unstable. Persistent pulmonary hypertension in babies could be very serious because all organs are dependent in oxygen-rich blood that is being pumped on them and the lack of it will result to damage of internal organs.
What are the risk factors for persistent pulmonary hypertension for babies?
This condition usually occurs within 72 hours after birth. The following are the risk factors for this condition:
- Birth depression
- Congenital disorder resulting in underdeveloped lungs or congenital heart disease
- Low body temperature
- Meconium aspiration or the fetal bowel movements are inhaled into the lungs even before birth
What are its signs and symptoms?
Persistent pulmonary hypertension is commonly associated with the following signs and symptoms:
- Grunting or moaning when the baby breathes out
- Hands and feet are blue
- Blotchy or pale in color
- Low blood oxygen level
- Low blood pressure
- Rapid breathing
- Retractions or the skin between the ribs pulls in during hard and fast breathing
- The baby’s lips are color blue that gets worse in the first 24 hours.
- Urine output is very low
What are the laboratory tests that can help to determine if the baby has persistent pulmonary hypertension?
- Arterial blood gas. Determines if the oxygen is well-delivered all over the body.
- Chest x-rays. Is used to determine if the baby has an enlarged heart or a lung disease.
- Complete blood count. CBC measures the number of white blood cells, platelets, and the red blood cells.
- It is an ultrasound of the heart to determine and to evaluate the blood flow in the heart and lungs.
- Ultrasound of the head to see if there is any bleeding in the brain.
What is the possible treatment for persistent pulmonary hypertension in babies?
The main goal in treating persistent pulmonary hypertension in babies is to increase the flow of oxygen to prevent serious health problems. The following are the treatment for hypertension in babies:
- Assisted ventilation. The tube is inserted into the baby’s windpipe and the ventilator will take over his breathing and oxygen will be given.
- Nitric oxide. According to research, nitric oxide is effective in treating hypertension in babies. It relaxes contracted blood vessels in the lungs and improves the blood flow at the same time.
- A 100 percent supplemental oxygen is given to your baby through a plastic hood or mask.
Persistent pulmonary hypertension in babies is very challenging to treat but the treatments that are now available can slow down the disease or reverse the damage to the lungs. However, it is very important to treat it right away to avoid more serious health problems that may cost your baby’s life.