Bronchopulmonary dysplasia, more commonly referred to as BPD, is one of the most common chronic lung diseases in children. BPD typically affects premature infants with low birth weights. This patient group will have under developed lungs. Some babies who encounter respiratory distress shortly after birth may also be at risk. White males seem to be the infant population at the greatest risk for BPD. BPD can also be caused by other events that leave scarring and damage to the tissue of the delicate infant lungs such as trauma, or severe infections.
Dysplasia means “abnormal growth or development of the tissue or organs”. In BPD, this takes place in the small airways and the alveoli (tiny air sacs where gas exchange takes place) causing respiratory dysfunction and difficulty breathing. In the simplest of terms, the distress the lung tissue encounters from any of the above mentioned events, causes inflammation which over time can lead to scaring. Scarred lung tissue loses the elasticity the lungs need for easy breathing.
The diagnosis of BPD usually comes after more than 28 days of supplemental oxygen, and/or positive pressure ventilation, and respiratory distress. Chest x-rays are also used in the diagnosis of BPD.
The image on the left shows BPD, the image on the right shows a normal chest x-ray.
Although most infants fully recover with few long-term health problems. As the child grows, new healthy lung tissue forms that compensates for the damaged scarred tissue. In some cases, BPD can be serious and need intensive medical care. Home oxygen may be required for some patients while the new healthy lung tissue grows.
We were privileged to be a part of the following video made by Children’s of Alabama. This video goes in depth explaining what BPD is, treatments, things to watch for, and what to expect when going home with medical equipment. It’s a great resource to watch for anyone experiencing a child with BPD. It also gives a great rundown of using oxygen in the home setting.
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Sources for this article include the following: