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Primary Pulmonary Hypertension in Babies: What it Is and Why it Occurs

Feb 29, 2008
There is a rare but serious disease that can occur in newborns called primary pulmonary hypertension in babies. This disease can be the result of numerous factors, including an event during delivery or a congenital problem, or the reason for the disease may never be known. Although this condition is a rare one, it can have serious long-term implications for your baby. Because of this, it is important to know the basics of primary pulmonary hypertension in babies so that you can know what to look for and what to do if it does occur.

When a baby is in the womb, his cardiovascular system does not work the same as when he makes his entrance into the world. Instead of blood going through the lungs for oxygen, the baby counts on Mom - and more specifically the placenta that Mom provides - to oxygenate his blood. During this time, the pulmonary artery will carry blood back to the heart directly, via a fetal blood vessel that is called the ductus arteriosus. Once the baby is born, the cardiovascular system quickly adapts to function sufficiently on its own, and the ductus arteriosus permanently closes.

However, in the case of primary pulmonary hypertension in babies, this switchover does not occur properly. In these situations, the ductus arteriosus does not close, and the blood continues to bypass the lungs within the baby's cardiovascular system. Since the blood is not getting sufficient oxygen, the baby's body becomes distressed and treatment to solve the problem will become necessary and imminent. The lack of oxygen in the blood can have a detrimental affect on the rest of the organs of the body, and they will become distressed from oxygen depletion as well.

In some cases, this condition will correct itself within a fairly short period of time. In other situations, doctors may need to provide different types of treatment, such as the use of different types of ventilators and medications. These treatments can be used until the baby's own lungs and heart heal on their own. It is essential that treatment for primary pulmonary hypertension in babies begins as soon as possible after delivery, since oxygen-deprived organs can quickly become a very serious problem in newborns.

The good news is that with the introduction of some of these new treatments for this condition, the survival rate for infants with primary pulmonary hypertension in babies has become relatively high if it is caught early and treated effectively.
About the Author
Nick Johnson is lead counsel with Johnson Law Group. Johnson represents plaintiffs in many states and focuses on injury cases involving Fen-Phen and PPH, Paxil, Mesothelioma, and Avandia. Call Nick Johnson at 1-888-311-5522 or visit http://www.johnsonlawgroup.com
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