What is persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN)?

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Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN) is a life-threatening condition that affects about one or two in 1,000 infants. As many as 10-20 percent of newborn babies die from PPHN.

PPHN restricts the blood flow to the infant’s lungs, limited the amount of oxygen that goes into the bloodstream. This disorder can result in respiratory failure, as the arteries of the lungs can stay constricted following delivery.  That is why it is important that the medical staff (doctors and nurses) takes immediate action.  Infants with PPHN often require intubation and mechanical ventilation. A baby can sustain brain damage (brain injury) or even death from such a condition if it is not treated properly. 

Symptoms of PPHN tend to surface within 12 hours following the birth of the child.  These symptoms may include the following:

– rapid heart rate
– flaring nostrils
– grunting
– bluish skin (cyanosis)
– extreme drowsiness
– rapid breathing

A doctor might discover additional symptoms after conducting a medical examination such as an enlarged liver, weak pulse or low blood pressure.

While the cause of PPHN is not always clear it is know to result from problems or complications during delivery. It can also occur when the baby is in the womb.

Doctors and nurses must be on the look out for this serious condition and take timely appropriate action if it is detected.

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