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Diagnosing Primary Pulmonary Hypertension In Babies

Mar 3, 2008
Most people are not aware of it, but primary pulmonary hypertension (PPH) is something that can also occur in babies. Even for people who have heard of it, the correlation with babies is something that they are often very surprised about. Primary pulmonary hypertension in babies is generally from a somewhat different cause than PPH in adults.

This is the case because primary pulmonary hypertension in babies comes from a problem with their blood vessels when they are born. When a baby is still in the womb, it does not breathe, so the lungs are not used. There is a blood vessel which bypasses the lungs and returns blood to the heart with enough oxygen to take care of the organs and tissues that the blood is then pumped to. With PPH in babies, however, that blood vessel does not close off at birth.

When this takes place, the baby is breathing but the oxygen from the lungs is not getting into the blood stream and getting to the heart, so it cannot be pumped with the blood to the organs and tissues. Having primary pulmonary hypertension in babies can cause multiple organ failure, and can also cause these babies to die quickly if they are not treated.

PPH in babies is something that is very serious, and it has to be caught rapidly so that these newborns can be protected and operated on if necessary. If the blood vessel can be closed off, the blood vessels in the lungs will usually take over, and the newborn can be saved. He or she can then usually go on to live a normal life.

There are cases of primary pulmonary hypertension in babies without this blood vessel issue, and these cases are rare and surprising, having no apparent cause. However, there is a school of thought which now says that antidepressant use by the mother during pregnancy can be linked to PPH in babies, so this is something that pregnant women and doctors will want to consider.

If this disease can be reduced by ensuring that the mother does not take antidepressants while pregnant, this is naturally an important issue. There is likely no way to stop all cases of PPH, however, because the cause can be completely random and unknown sometimes, and doctors are still looking for other likely causes.

There is a number of varying PPH symptoms as well as ways to treat it, depending on patients' medical needs. Primary pulmonary hypertension in babies can manifest hearing loss, brain abnormalities, dysfunctional development, poor eating, seizures, and anxiety. Adults may experience swelling, cyanosis, liver enlargement, neck vein distensions, fatigue, weakness, dizziness/lightheadedness, coughing blood, breath shortness, or chest pain.

Some of these may only be detectable with a visit to a doctor using tests such as a chest X-ray, an echocardiogram, or cardiac catheterization. Possible treatments include calcium channel blockers taken orally, diuretics, anticoagulants, intravenous prostacyclin, supplemental oxygen, or lung/heart-lung transplant.

Primary pulmonary hypertension in babies as well as any other patients should be dealt with as soon as possible. Do whatever is necessary until you are fully compensated for your losses.
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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