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Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia (BPD) Emergencies


BPD emergencies can have several causes, including:

  • infections (even following minor viral "colds");
  • excess fluid in the lungs;
  • aspiration of food (or stomach contents) into the lungs;
  • at times, BPD emergencies happen for no obvious reason; some of these emergencies may be due to increased inflammation in the lungs, which may come on for unknown reasons.

You know that your infant is having a BPD emergency when they are having alot more trouble breathing than usual, which is known as Respiratory Distress.


Signs of respiratory distress include:

  • breathing fast or shallow or panting or grunty breathing;
  • an increased breathing rate;
  • when your baby looks like he or she is working harder at breathing. In some babies, you can see the spaces between the ribs or at the base of the neck being sucked in (or being sucked in more than usual);
  • Wheezing;
  • Increased cough;
  • Fatigue because of trouble breathing;
  • difficulty feeding;
  • lower blood oxygen level, which may show as duskiness or blueness (especially around the lips), a reduced oxygen saturation, or a need for extra oxygen.

Action Plan

You should have an Emergency plan worked out ahead of time with your doctor.

Some things you can do at home during an emergency include: giving extra doses of bronchodilator (or Reliever) medications (up to every 4 hours), increasing the dose of anti-inflammatory (or Preventer) medication, or increasing the amount of oxygen you give your baby — but you should only do those things your doctor has suggested you can try.

If these things don't help, or if your baby is having a severe emergency (having signs like severe difficulty breathing, marked duskiness, marked fatigue, or stopping breathing), you should see a doctor immediately. Treatments that a doctor may order in an emergency include extra steroids, extra water pills, extra bronchodilator medications, extra oxygen, or antibiotics.

Some doctors are not very familiar with BPD — make sure the doctor knows what medications your child has been taking. BPD is quite rare, so if the doctor really doesn't seem very familiar with BPD, insist that the doctor obtain advice from the nearest hospital which has doctors specializing in the treatment of BPD.

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