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Another term for high blood pressure is hypertension. Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN) is a life-threatening condition. Before birth, a baby’s blood circulates differently while in the uterus. With PPHN the baby does not change over from fetal to normal newborn circulation. Blood is forced away from the lungs due to high blood pressure in the arteries that go to the lungs. This decreases the body’s supply of oxygen.
PPHN can occur in both full-term and near-term infants, usually within 72 hours after birth. Some of the risk factors for this condition are:
If a baby has the symptoms listed above the doctor may order a cardiac ultrasound test to check the pathway of blood circulation. (Refer to the Helping Hand, Ultrasound Scan, HH-III-54.)
The goal of treatment is to improve oxygen levels in the blood, relax the blood vessels in the lungs and maintain a normal blood pressure. The baby is given oxygen and medicines and is kept quiet and warm.
-CPAP (Continuous Positive Air Pressure) – oxygen is given through tiny tubes placed in the nose.
-Ventilator - a machine that helps the baby to breathe
-High frequency ventilation - machine that delivers rapid, short bursts of oxygen.
Treatment for severe, life-threatening PPHN may involve treating with nitrous oxide or a procedure called ECMO. See the Helping Hand, ECMO (Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation), HH-II-90. If ECMO is needed, your baby’s doctor will discuss this procedure with you and answer your questions.
HH-I-270 1/07 Copyright 2007, Nationwide Children’s Hospital