What is bronchopulmonary dysplasia?Bronchopulmonary dysplasia is a condition that may develop in some preterm infants, in which the infant remains dependent on artificial ventilation and then oxygen for several months. Chest radiology reveals patchy collapse and cystic changes in overinflated lungs. Bronchopulmonary dysplasia is a chronic lung disease of babies, which most commonly
develops in the first 4 weeks after birth and most often affects babies born at least 4 weeks before term. The lungs do not work properly in bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) and the baby has trouble breathing, needs extra oxygen, and may need help from a ventilator (breathing machine).
Bronchopulmonary dysplasia occurs most often in premature newborns who had severe lung disease at birth, such as respiratory distress syndrome, particularly in those who needed treatment with a ventilator for more than a few weeks after birth. Respiratory distress syndrome can lead to bronchopulmonary dysplasia, scarring of the lungs. The combination of the premature baby's immature lungs and the treatments to help him breathe (including machines and oxygen) causes this damage. Babies who still need oxygen at 4 weeks before their original due date are considered to have BPD. Milder levels of damage are called chronic lung disease of prematurity (CLD). As the babies mature, they grow more lung tissue, which can improve their breathing over time.
Premature infants are most at risk for bronchopulmonary dysplasia because their immature lungs require high concentrations of oxygen and ventilator support for breathing. Premature infants are most likely to have respiratory distress syndrome, congenital heart disease, or other illnesses that are treated with oxygen or ventilator therapy. However, full-term newborns with such disorders as meconium aspiration (when the fetus inhales intestinal material before birth) or persistent pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the lungs) can also develop bronchopulmonary dysplasia. Both conditions require oxygen treatment.