Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia | UnityPoint Health - Meriter

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Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia

What is bronchopulmonary dysplasia?

Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) is a form of longer lasting lung disease. It occurs in infants who have had severe Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS), lung infection or were extremely premature at birth.

What causes BPD?

BPD is a reaction of the premature lung to its disease and to the oxygen and mechanical ventilation that were needed to treat the infants lung disease. Occasionally very premature infants get BPD even if they did not need mechanical ventilation or much extra oxygen after birth.

How will I know if my baby has BPD?

BPD is usually diagnosed if a baby continues to have an abnormal chest x-ray and still needs oxygen by the time a baby is 36 weeks of gestation (a month before the due date). However, your baby's doctor may be concerned enough to treat your baby's continuing lung disease long before this date. A baby with BPD may also have one or more of the following:

  • rapid breathing
  • more difficult breathing
  • wheezing or noisy breathing
  • wet or crackling sound to the lungs heard with a stethoscope
  • more difficult time growing

How is BPD treated?

A baby with BPD needs extra oxygen for a long period of time. This may be several weeks or months, occasionally for more than a year. Babies with BPD may be discharged on home oxygen and/or a monitor. 

Some babies are treated with other medications. These might include:

  • Steroids - drugs to decrease the body's reaction to oxygen and disease
  • Diuretics - drugs to help the body to get rid of extra water
  • Drugs to decrease wheezing

Infants with BPD may also qualify for the Synagis® shot which protects against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) during the winter months. Ask your physician for more information.