According to the CDC, 4% of all newborns will receive assisted ventilation. About one of five of those requiring immediate ventilation went on to require assisted ventilation for more than 6 hours after delivery. Respiratory disorders can require or be caused by assisted ventilation.
The following are common Neonatal Respiratory Disorders:
Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD): BPD is caused by prolonged periods of high levels of assisted ventilation. Congenital heart disease, prematurity and severe respiratory infection are risk factors for BPD. Infants with this disorder may be fed by NG tube and require extra calories. Diuretics, corticosteroids, bronchodilators and surfactant are common medicinal treatments.
Apnea: Apnea is caused by immaturity in the area of the brain that controls the drive to breathe or by illness. Intraventricular hemorrhage, intracranial hemorrhage, neonatal seizures, perinatal asphyxia,, Impairment of oxygenation from congestive heart failure and pulmonary edema (PDA, coarctation, etc.), or from shunting (cyanotic heart disease) are common risk factors.
Transient Tachypnea of the Newborn (TTN): TTN is found in full term babies and is caused by leftover fluid in the lungs. The baby affected will breathe rapidly and this will make it harder for the baby to keep the small air sacs of the lungs open. Pneumonia, blood infections and underdevelopment of the lungs is a risk factor. In treatment the baby will be given oxygen to keep stable.
Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension (PPHN): PPHN occurs when there is a failure of the normal circulatory transition that occurs after birth. Risk factors include meconium aspiration syndrome, pneumonia, infection, low blood sugar, birth asphyxia, amniotic fluid leak and low amniotic fluid. Treatments include ventilation, nitric oxide, and ECMO.
Pneumothorax: This disorder occurs when alveoli in the lung burst which leads to leaking air into the pleural space. RDS and meconium aspiration are causal factors. This condition is treated by placing a catheter into the baby's chest to remove the air.
Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS): RDS occurs when an infant's immature lungs do not produce enough surfactant. Ventilation and surfacant are common treatments.
Meconium Aspiration Syndrome (MAS): MAS occurs when a neonate passes meconium while in the uterus. The neonate may in turn breathe in the meconium which can cause respiratory complications. Antibiotics and ventilation are common treatments.
Information retrieved from NIH, Children's of University of Iowa and NYU Langone Medical Center
Although there are many treatments available for neonatal respiratory disorders including surfacant, ECMO, nitric oxide and antibiotics, the following are some common technologies used.
Continuous positive airway pressure (C-PAP) utilizes mild air pressure to keep an infant's airways open. This treatment is commonly used for respiratory distress syndrome or bronchopulmonary dysplasia.
An oxygen hood is provided to babies that can breath unassisted but require some additional warm, moist oxygen.
A ventilator delivers increased oxygen and can breath for the baby. This can allow a baby's lungs to recover if they are weak or sick.
Information retrieved from NIH
Asher, a micro-preemie, spent 88 days in the NICU. Respiratory issues were Asher’s major setback not only in the NICU but in life after the NICU.
Read more about Asher's journey.