Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension Of The Newborn

Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN) is a rare but serious medical condition that occurs when a newborn's blood pressure in the lungs is too high. This condition can lead to reduced oxygen supply in the body, which can be life-threatening. Despite being rare, it is vital to raise awareness about PPHN because early diagnosis and treatment can significantly improve the outcome for the affected infant.

Causes and Risk Factors

Several causes and risk factors can lead to PPHN, including maternal health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease. Certain medications taken during pregnancy, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can also increase the risk of PPHN. Premature birth and low birth weight can also increase the likelihood of PPHN, as can genetic factors. It is important to understand these causes and risk factors to take preventive measures and ensure early detection and treatment of PPHN.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

  • Difficulty breathing: Newborns with PPHN often have trouble breathing, manifesting as rapid or shallow breathing or grunting sounds.
  • Cyanosis is a bluish discolouration of the skin, lips, and nails due to low oxygen levels in the blood.
  • Low blood oxygen levels: PPHN can cause low oxygen levels, which can be detected with a pulse oximeter.
  • Echocardiogram and blood tests for diagnosis: Echocardiogram is performed to check for abnormalities in the heart and lungs. Blood tests measure oxygen levels and other gases in the blood.

Treatment and Management

  1. Oxygen therapy: Oxygen therapy can be provided in several ways, including through a nasal cannula, a face mask, or mechanical ventilation.
  2. Mechanical ventilation: In severe cases, mechanical ventilation may be necessary to help the newborn breathe. This involves using a machine to push air into the lungs and can be done with a tube placed in the trachea.
  3. Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO): ECMO is a technique that involves using a machine to bypass the heart and lungs and oxygenate the blood outside the body.
  4. Medications for pulmonary vasodilation: Medications can help dilate the blood vessels in the lungs, reducing pulmonary hypertension and improving oxygenation.
  5. Supportive care and monitoring: Newborns with PPHN may require supportive care such as nutrition, hydration, and careful monitoring of vital signs. Close monitoring of blood oxygen levels, heart function, and other parameters can help healthcare providers make informed treatment decisions.

By using these treatment options, healthcare providers can help manage the symptoms of PPHN and improve outcomes for newborns affected by this condition.


  1. Maternal health management

Women with pre-existing conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease should receive appropriate prenatal care and regular check-ups to manage their health conditions. Pregnant women should also avoid smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke, as these increase the risk of PPHN.

  1. Careful selection and management of medications during pregnancy

Certain medications, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), have been linked to an increased risk of PPHN in newborns. Pregnant women should consult with their doctors about the risks and benefits of taking these medications and explore possible alternative treatments.

  1. Neonatal care for premature and low birth weight infants

Premature and low birth weight infants are at a higher risk of developing PPHN. Appropriate neonatal care, including respiratory support and monitoring of oxygen levels, can help prevent and manage the condition.

By taking these preventive measures, the risk of PPHN can be reduced, and more newborns can be given a chance to lead healthy and happy lives.

Coping with PPHN

It is essential to seek support from healthcare professionals and other families who have experienced PPHN. Some coping strategies can help manage the stress and anxiety associated with PPHN, such as maintaining a positive outlook, practising self-care, and staying informed about the latest research and treatments. With proper care and management, babies with PPHN can lead healthy and fulfilling lives.

Request an appointment at Apollo Cradle, Bengaluru - Jayanagar. Call 1860-500-1066 to book an appointment.

1. What causes PPHN?

Maternal health conditions, medications during pregnancy, premature birth, low birth weight, and genetic factors can all increase the risk of PPHN.

2. Can PPHN be prevented?

While it may not always be preventable, careful management of maternal health conditions and medications during pregnancy and neonatal care for premature and low birth weight infants can reduce the risk of PPHN.

3. How long does PPHN treatment last?

The duration of treatment depends on the severity of the condition, but it can range from days to weeks.

4. Is PPHN curable?

While there is no specific cure for PPHN, early diagnosis and proper treatment can improve the baby's chances of recovery.

5. Can PPHN affect a baby's long-term health?

In some cases, PPHN can lead to long-term lung or developmental issues. However, with proper treatment and monitoring, many babies with PPHN can recover and lead healthy lives.

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