Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of The Newborn

What is PPHN?

Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPNH), also referred to as persistent fetal circulation, happens when the circulatory system of an infant does not become accustomed properly to maintain breathing outside the womb.

At a child's birth, the first breath of air normally causes the blood pressure in lungs to fall and to raise the blood flow towards the lungs where oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged. Normally, for this process to go alright, the ductus arteriosus of the baby should tighten and close permanently on its first day after birth. The ductus arteriosus of infants who suffer from PPHN, either doesn't close or doesn't close properly, and the blood pressure in lungs remains high. It directs the blood away from the baby's lungs. As a result, the blood stream of the baby does not get properly oxygenated, which can affect several organs of the newborn, especially the brain. Decreased blood supply to the brain can lead to cerebral palsy.

If your child suffers from birth injuries caused by Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn, you may be entitled to a compensation for the damages suffered.

Call 315-479-9000 to schedule a free consultation with the birth injury lawyers at DeFrancisco & Falgiatano.

Causes of Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn

There can be several causes of PPHN, including:

  • Abnormal lung growth due to Potter syndrome or congenital diaphragmatic hernia
  • An event or illness during pregnancy or childbirth
  • Birth asphyxia (oxygen deprivation for the infant during delivery)
  • Fetal Infection
  • Late trimester maternal use of antidepressants (mainly SSRI antidepressants)
  • Leakage of amniotic fluid
  • Low amniotic fluid (oligohydramnios)
  • Low blood sugar
  • Maternal intake of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (such as aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen) during pregnancy
  • Meconium aspiration syndrome (the baby breathes in meconium-the first stool-before or soon after birth)
  • Respiratory distress syndrome -caused by not fully developed lungs
  • Severe pneumonia
  • Stress during pregnancy
  • Isolated condition with an unknown cause

There have been many lawsuits where the intake of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) drugs has found to be associated with PPHN. Mothers who take these antidepressants (e.g., Zoloft, Prozac, Celexa and Paxil) later than 20 weeks of gestation age have a six times higher risk of persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn stricken babies, as compared to mothers who don't take drugs.

Symptoms of Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn

Mostly PPHN occurs in post term deliveries or full term births with a hard labor or delivery. Usually, it may happen due to asphyxia (oxygen deprivation), ischemia (lack of blood flow), or other fetal distress (such as low fetal heart rate). It is a rare occurrence happening in approximately one in 700 childbirths. Signs of PPHN include:

  • Bluish Skin
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Heart Murmurs
  • Low Blood Oxygen Levels
  • Rapid Breathing
  • Rapid Heart Rate

Treatment of PPHN

PPHN stricken babies are treated in NICU (neonatal intensive care unit), by insertion of pure oxygen into the baby's windpipe through a tube. In some cases, an ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machine) is used to work as an artificial lung and heart for the baby, until the lungs recover. Despite the treatment, the babies are still at risk of brain hemorrhage, heart failure, kidney failure, seizures, shock, organ damage and even death. PPHN babies may also suffer long-term health conditions, such as breathing difficulties, hearing loss, seizures, and developmental disorders.

Serving Birth Injury Victims in Syracuse and Upstate New York

To speak with an attorney about your baby's PPHN, call DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers at 315-479-9000 or contact us online. Consultations are always free and you will never owe any legal fees unless we are able to recover compensation for you.