Saving Lives: Preventing BPD in Infants

Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia (BPD) is a serious lung disease affecting newborns. According to the American Lung Association, it generally occurs in premature infants who are born more than 10 weeks early. It is often seen as a complication of respiratory distress syndrome (RDS), where the lungs of the baby are not developed enough to take in an adequate amount of air. Treatment of RDS generally requires a breathing machine to assist the infant in breathing. Flexible plastic tubing is placed into the trachea for the purpose of opening the airway. Unfortunately, the process often leads to the development of BPD with symptoms that include lung inflammation and scarring.

BPD is reportedly a leading cause of early death among extremely low birth weigh newborns. For this reason, physicians often prefer alternative treatments to invasive breathing machines. A recent study in The New England Journal of Medicine compared the effectiveness of noninvasive ventilation strategies.

The Study Details

Participants were chosen among 34 neonatal units, across 10 countries. Each infant was screened to ensure their appropriateness for noninvasive respiratory support. Half of the participants were treated with Nasal Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP). With this treatment, a mask with nasal prongs is placed over the infant’s face and continuously exerts pressure that prevents collapse of the lungs. It closely resembles the machine that many adults use to treat sleep apnea during the night.

The second set of infants were treated with Nasal Intermittent Positive Ventilation (IPPV), which gives “continuous positive airway pressure with extra breaths,” according to a report by MedicineNet.

The study resulted in data for 987 infants. Of the 497 who received nasal IPPV, 38% reportedly developed bronchopulmonary dysplasia. Similarly, 37% of the 490 infants receiving nasal CPAP also developed bronchopulmonary dysplasia. Due to the close comparisons of the study, experts report that the preferred method will likely come down to a cost analysis, with IPPV expected to be less expensive.


The American Lung Association offers advice to pregnant women for the prevention of BPD. The recommendations include:

***Regularly scheduled doctor’s appointment throughout the pregnancy. There are numerous symptoms and indications that should alert your physician to the possibility of premature delivery
***Sticking to a healthy diet promotes the health of your developing fetus
***Expectant mothers should avoid tobacco smoke and alcohol consumption, as well as use of illegal drugs. Everything that enters your body can have an adverse effect on your baby.
***Monitor and treat any existing medical problems, such as high blood pressure or diabetes. Failure to adequately care for these conditions can also lead to premature delivery.
***Protect your health by taking precautions against infections. Regular hand washing is vitally important, along with avoiding individuals who are currently sick.

When a physician does not take proper precautions to prevent you from delivering prematurely, the results can prove fatal. With the assistance of an attorney, you can seek compensation for your baby’s injuries through the courts.

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