Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN) is a rare but serious respiratory and circulatory disorder that develops in newborns. It is also known as Persistent Fetal Circulation.
Newborns with PPHN are usually born at or near full-term and develop extreme respiratory problems shortly after their births. One to two infants per 1,000 born will have this condition.
Medical experience has shown that stress caused to the fetus before birth may contribute to PPHN along with other diseases and congenital conditions that are problematic for the circulatory and respiratory systems. Maternal risks include: diabetes, infection, and the use of so-called NSAID drugs. Research has shown a direct correlation between NSAID antidepressant medications such as Prozac, and third trimester complications.
Symptoms of PPHN include rapid breathing, also called tachypnea, rapid heart rate, respiratory distress, including signs such as flaring nostrils and grunting, cyanosis, a condition in which the baby's skin has a bluish tint even while they are receiving extra oxygen to breathe, a heart murmur, where a baby has an extra or abnormal heart sound, and low oxygen levels. A baby with PPHN may continue to have low oxygen levels in their blood, even while receiving 100 percent oxygen.
Treatment for PPHN is to increase oxygen to the baby's organs. Treatment generally includes high frequency oscillatory ventilation and inhaled nitric oxide, which has proven to be incredibly effective because the gas relaxes contracted lung blood vessels and helps circulate blood flow faster. Successful treatment requires that physicians promptly recognize the condition and begin treatment. Delay in providing proper is dangerous to the baby and may result in serious injury.