Chronic Lung Disease in Infants - Treatment Overview
chronic lung disease depends on how severe the
condition is. Treatment usually includes
oxygen therapy and sometimes using a
ventilator, as well as medicines and nutritional
therapy. Treatment does not cure chronic lung disease. But it helps a newborn
breathe more easily while the lungs mature and heal on their own. Babies who are born with this condition may need some form of treatment
throughout their lives.
Most newborns who have chronic lung disease recover from it. But the
symptoms may last a long time and may require treatment into early childhood.
Occasional setbacks from difficulty breathing are common.
treatment includes one or more of the following:
- Oxygen, which can be inhaled directly into the
lungs. Your baby may also need a ventilator, which forces air into the lungs.
In some cases, babies can use a ventilator at home, but not always. Treatment
to help your baby breathe reduces the stress on his or her body while the lungs
mature and heal on their own.
- Medicine. Your baby may be given
bronchodilators, or corticosteroids. Medicine to prevent
respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections may also
- Nutritional therapy. If your baby is not able to eat from
a bottle or at the breast, a
nasogastric tube will be inserted into his or her
stomach through the nose. Your baby's doctor will give
total parenteral nutrition (TPN) if your baby cannot
be tube-fed. Babies with chronic lung disease need to eat more calories than
healthy babies, because their bodies use more energy than normal to breathe and
to fight infection.
Vitamin supplements and
electrolytes are often also given.
Your baby will be treated by medical
specialists such as a
neonatologist or a
pulmonologist. Your newborn may need to spend time in
the hospital, from several weeks to several months. During this time, visit
your baby often and ask to be involved in his or her care.
and long-term treatment of chronic lung disease varies greatly, depending
- How severely the baby's lungs are damaged.
- How difficult it is for the baby to breathe.
triggered the development of chronic lung disease.
- How early
(prematurely) the baby was born.
If your newborn has mild to moderate chronic lung disease and can breathe without the use of a
ventilator, he or she will be given additional oxygen (which is inhaled, not
forced, into the lungs). Oxygen therapy helps your baby:
- Breathe more easily.
- Get oxygen
to body cells.
- Grow and develop normally.
Your baby may need continued oxygen therapy for the first
few months after birth. Inhaled oxygen may be administered by:
This flexible plastic tube is placed in the nostrils and is connected to an
- Oxygen hood. This is a rigid, clear plastic device
that fits over your baby's head and is connected to an oxygen
Endotracheal tube. This is a soft
rubber or plastic tube that is inserted through the nose or mouth into the
windpipe (trachea). Babies who must use a ventilator for more than a few weeks
sometimes need a
tracheotomy. A tracheotomy reduces problems that may
be caused by long-term use of an endotracheal tube, such as discomfort and
damage to the trachea and vocal cords.