Chronic Lung Disease in Infants - Treatment Overview
Your baby may use an
apnea monitor if he or she needs only oxygen therapy
and does not need a ventilator. The monitor helps you and other caregivers
detect any problems with your baby's breathing patterns.
newborn will need a ventilator if he or she is diagnosed with severe chronic lung disease. The use of a ventilator may
continue for a few days to a few months. For some children, it is needed for as
long as 2 years.
In addition to oxygen therapy or ventilators,
your baby may need:
incubator to help regulate his or her body
- Medicines to control the symptoms of chronic lung
- Diuretics help excess fluid in your baby's body to be
eliminated through the urine. This prevents fluid from building up inside the
lungs and allows the baby's heart and lungs to function more easily.
Electrolyte solutions may be given to replace body chemicals
(electrolytes) that are lost as a side effect of the diuretic.
- Bronchodilators may be used to stop
spasms or closing of the airways, which helps to release some of the trapped
air and allows your baby to breathe more easily. The baby inhales
this medicine through a nebulizer.
- Corticosteroids may decrease swelling
and inflamed lung tissue so that your newborn can breathe without a ventilator
or extra oxygen. This medicine can have serious side effects, so doctors must weigh the risks and benefits when they decide whether to give this medicine to babies.2, 3
- Medicine to
prevent respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections.
Babies who have chronic lung disease are at increased risk for developing
- Nutritional support. These babies usually need extra calories
and protein to grow at a normal rate, because they burn extra calories breathing
and fighting frequent infections. Extra nutrients are also important to help
heal damaged lung tissue. Getting needed nutrition can be a challenge for
babies who have chronic lung disease, because they may not be able to eat from a
bottle or at the breast. Sometimes a baby is fed a high-calorie mixture of
nutrients (fat, protein, and sugars) directly into the stomach through a
nasogastric tube. Or this mixture of nutrients is given through a vein (IV)
using TPN. These methods may be used alone or as a supplement to bottle feeding
or breast-feeding. Vitamin supplements are also usually given.
You may be able to continue treatment for
your baby at home, even if he or she needs oxygen therapy. Treating your baby
at home helps you bond with the baby and can help you to be more relaxed and
comfortable. Leaving the hospital can also minimize your medical care expenses.
Before you take your newborn home, you will need to learn how
- Care for your infant with chronic lung disease. You will need to know how to monitor your baby's health and
meet his or her increased nutritional needs, perform CPR, give medicines, and
set up a daily routine.
- Use a nasal cannula. This is a flexible
plastic tube that has a set of two prongs that can be placed in the nostrils to
deliver oxygen to the body. You must know how to care for it as well as how to
keep your baby comfortable.