If your baby was born prematurely or had breathing problems shortly after birth, he or she is at risk for developing a condition called bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), a type of chronic lung disease. It’s important for you to learn about caring for lung disease if your little one has this condition.
What Is BPD?
According to KidsHealth, BPD is characterized by lung inflammation and scarring caused by abnormal lung tissue development. It’s most commonly found in premature babies with underdeveloped lungs. Most occurrences are found in babies born at or before 34 weeks and weighing less than 4.5 pounds.
Prognosis of BPD
While KidsHealth states most babies recover from the condition completely and experience few lasting health problems, BPD can require intensive medical care in the meantime. Premature babies are often put on mechanical ventilators to do their breathing for them.
Precautions Once You Come Home
With your baby out of the NICU, it’s time to start caring for lung disease from the comfort of home. To ensure the most positive prognosis possible, take note of the following facts and precautions from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute:
- If the doctor recommends it, keep your baby on oxygen therapy.
- Part of caring for lung disease of this sort is keeping your child away from conditions that could make him or her sick. BPD increases your baby’s risk for colds, the flu and other infections throughout infancy and early childhood.
- BPD makes it difficult to swallow, so food can become lodged in the airway. If the disease persists into childhood, consider contacting a specialist to teach your child how to swallow with the condition.
- Your child may have lung problems throughout childhood and even into adulthood. Asthma and apnea are common long-term problems, so keep an eye out for symptoms of either.
- Your child is likely to be smaller than other children in his or her age group. He or she might also experience delayed speech, learning problems, poor coordination and underdeveloped muscles.
With the help of your family and friends, you can get through this trying time. If you have further questions regarding BPD, be sure to reach out to your pediatrician. To learn more about oxygen therapy treatment and the options available, click here.