PPHN: A Guide for New Parents

What is Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn?

An infant who has persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN) runs the risk of not getting adequate oxygen after birth.

Babies receive all of their oxygen from the mother throughout pregnancy through the placenta. The organ in the mother's womb called the placenta, is joined to the umbilical cord. This route allows nutrients and oxygen from the mother's blood to reach the baby.

The pulmonary vessels, which carry blood to the baby's lungs, are closed until birth. The blood travels to the leftover of the body without passing through the lungs.

The pulmonary vessels should open as the newborn takes their first breath after delivery. The baby's blood should be able to pass through their lungs and absorb oxygen from the surrounding air.

However, the baby's lungs' blood vessels do not fully expand when they have PPHN.

Symptoms of PPHN

Some of the symptoms include:

  • Rapid heartbeat and breathing
  • Breathing while grunting or groaning
  • Cyanosis: It is a condition when the lips and area surrounding the mouth are blue
  • Even after receiving oxygen, the blood has low oxygen saturation levels

What is the cause of PPHN?

The causes of PPHN are mostly unknown. However, here is a list of reasons that are speculated to be the cause of PPHN.

Meconium aspiration - This takes place when a child passes poo inside the womb. Poo then gets mixed with the amniotic fluid and the child breathes it into their lungs.

Infection - Bloodstream infections or lung and chest infections like pneumonia are more likely to lead to PPHN. The chances of this condition also increase if the water breaks long before the delivery of the baby.

Congenital abnormality in heart and lungs - Although rare some babies get PPHN because they are born with heart and lung abnormalities. The abnormalities include blocked heart valves, diaphragmatic hernia or smaller lungs compared to the usual size. 

When to see a doctor?

Once the treatment for pulmonary hypertension in your baby is complete it will take many weeks or even months for your baby's lungs to fully recover. During the recovery period, it is very important to protect your baby from catching a cold or flu. Try to keep your baby away from large clouds and sick people. It is crucial to visit your baby's pediatric healthcare provider or a specialist for regular screening.

Risk Factors 

Some of the risk factors include:

  • Infection in the lungs
  • If the mother has diabetes mellitus
  • Abnormalities in the development of lungs or heart

Treatment for PPHN

The main purpose of PPHN treatment is to increase the flow of oxygen to the baby's organs. This will help to prevent serious health issues. The treatment includes many respiratory therapy options and mechanical ventilation. Let's take a look at some examples.

Oxygen - Your infant may receive 100% apply of oxygen via a mask or plastic hood.

Assisted ventilation - A tube is put into your baby's windpipe during assisted ventilation. During this procedure, oxygen is given and your baby's breathing is taken over by a ventilator.

In addition to this, Antibiotics, Sedatives, and Surfactants can be given for the treatment of PPHN. It's highly recommended to consult a doctor to treat this condition.


Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn is a serious and potentially fatal condition. However, with proper diagnosis and treatment, it can be managed. Parents need to be aware of the signs and symptoms, as well as risk factors associated with PPHN. Early detection can also help with providing appropriate treatments that can improve outcomes.

Request an appointment at Apollo Cradle, Hyderabad - Kondapur. Call 1860-500-1066 to book an appointment.

1. Who is affected by PPHN?

About two out of every 1,000 babies are affected by PPHN.

2. What causes PPHN?

The following factors are known to be the causes of PPHN-
1. Infections
2. Meconium aspiration
3. Congenital abnormalities in the heart and lungs

3. What are the common treatments for PPHN?

Some of the common treatments for PPHN include-
1. Supply of oxygen through a mask or a plastic hood
2. Assisted ventilation
3. Nitric oxide treatment
4. Antibiotics

4. Can newborns recover from pulmonary hypertension?

Pneumatic hypertension has no known treatment, and some kids eventually need lung or heart-lung transplants. New research is always being conducted to expand the alternatives available and new medicines are now being developed to help stop the condition from getting worse.

5. How long does it take for a baby to recover from PPHN?

It's crucial to keep your baby's immune system healthy since after PPHN therapy, your baby's lungs might take many weeks or months to completely recover.

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