There is approximately a three to five percent chance of having a baby with a birth defect, including persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN), also called persistent fetal circulation. This rare condition occurs in less than one percent of all births, but without immediate treatment, it can have a severe impact on a child’s circulatory system and overall health. Learn more about this life-threatening condition and how Overland Park Regional’s Neonatal Care Center can help you ensure the health of your baby:
What Is PPHN?
Normally, an infant’s body will automatically increase blood flow to its lungs as soon it takes its first breath, allowing for healthy circulatory development. However, infants with PPHN will revert to their fetal circulation pattern shortly after birth, bypassing most of the blood flow to the lungs and resulting in severely diminished function. Because the lungs are responsible for oxygenating the blood, infants with PPHN are at a high risk for organ damage.
What Are Its Causes and Symptoms?
PPHN frequently develops as a result of breathing problems or low oxygen levels during birth. Congenital conditions and diseases affecting the lungs such as severe pneumonia, meconium aspiration syndrome, and birth asphyxia may also cause PPHN. PPHN symptoms include:
- Tachypnea (rapid breathing)
- Rapid heart rate
- Cyanosis (skin of a bluish tint)
Low blood-oxygen levels in an oxygen-enriched environment
These symptoms could also be related to other conditions, so it is crucial to have a neonatal care specialist present to monitor the health of the child.
How is PPHN Treated?
Depending on your baby’s relative health, common treatment procedures for PPHN include supplemental oxygen and nitric oxide, medications, ET tubes, and ECMO. Prompt recognition and treatment are essential for facilitating proper lung development and minimizing the risk of long-term health complications.
At Overland Park Regional Medical Center, we understand that pregnancy and delivery is a vulnerable time for both mother and child, which is why we’ve equipped our NICU staff with the latest medical technology to diagnose and treat newborns with high-risk conditions. Call (888) 724-5920 or contact us online for more information about our facilities.