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Quick Facts

Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia (BPD)


The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Nov 2020| Content last modified Nov 2020
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What is bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD)?

"Broncho-" refers to the breathing passages inside the lungs and "-pulmonary" means lungs. "Dysplasia" means abnormal tissues. Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) is long-term lung damage that happens to some babies who had serious breathing problems at birth.

BPD usually happens to babies who were on a ventilator or needed oxygen early in life for a long time.

  • BPD happens most often in very premature babies

  • The lung damage from BPD makes babies need extra oxygen

  • Most babies get better after several months, but severe cases can be fatal

  • BPD can slow your child's growth and development and increase the risk of asthma or pneumonia

What causes BPD?

If your baby has a breathing problem, a ventilator and extra oxygen can be life-saving. But the ventilator and the oxygen can damage your baby's lungs if they're used for a long time.

Lung damage is more likely if your baby:

What are the symptoms of BPD?

Symptoms in babies include:

  • Fast breathing

  • Looking like they're struggling to breathe

  • Blue skin caused by low oxygen levels

How can doctors tell if my baby has BPD?

Doctors suspect BPD if your baby:

  • Was born prematurely and needed a ventilator for a long time

  • Continues to need extra oxygen or to be on the ventilator after the original lung problem has gotten better

To know for sure doctors will do:

How do doctors treat BPD?

To treat BPD, doctors will:

  • Give your baby oxygen through a small tube placed in the nose

  • Have your baby take extra breast milk or formula to help your baby’s lungs grow

  • Give medicine to make your baby urinate (pee) to get extra fluid out of the body, including the lungs

When your baby leaves the hospital, doctors will:

  • Have you keep your baby away from cigarette smoke

  • Give your baby medicine and the flu vaccine to prevent lung infections

Most babies get better after several months, but your child may have a higher chance of asthma or pneumonia later in life.

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