Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension

What is persistent pulmonary hypertension or PPHN? Also known as persistent fetal circulation, this usually happens to newborns. When a newborn baby’s circulation changes back to the circulation of a fetue, where much of the blood flow bypasses the lungs.

About one in every 500 to 1,5000 babies develops persistent pulmonary hypertension. Usually, it occurs in full-term or post-term babies after a difficult birth or birth asphyxia, a condition that results from too little oxygen.

Causes of persistent pulmonary hypertension

During pregnancy, the fetal lungs are not used to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide so that lungs will need less blood supply. The fetal circulation will send most of the blood supply away from the lungs and through special connections in the heart and the large blood vessels. Once a baby begins to breathe air at birth, this fetal circulation will change dramatically. The change in pressure in the lungs will help close the fetal connections and redirect the blood flow and now, blood is pumped to the lungs to help with the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. When a baby has low oxygen levels or difficulty breathing at birth, these changes may not occur and the baby’s circulation returns back to the fetal system with blood directed away from the lungs. The lung pressure stays high.

Treatments for persistent pulmonary hypertension:

  • Supplemental oxygen
  • Placing an endotracheal tube into the windpipe of the baby
  • Mechanical breathing machin
  • Medications
  • Inhalation of nitric oxide
  • Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation

Persistent pulmonary hypertension is such a grave condition especially seeing a newborn suffering from this. That is why it is said that expecting mothers should avoid stress, take all the necessary vitamins, routine checkups with their gynecologist and eat healthy. The condition is very rare and since it is very rare, research is still on-going regarding this medical condition. Luckily, there are treatments available for this. Treatment of persistent pulmonary hypertension is aimed at increasing the oxygen to the rest of the body systems. Long-term health problems may be related to damage from lowered oxygen in the body.

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