Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia, or BPD, is a condition unique to newborn premature infants who were born before their lungs were fully developed. Because of the immaturity of the lungs, they struggle to get oxygen to their bodies and their lungs become inflamed and scarred from the effort.
BPD can cause coughing, wheezing, and rapid shallow breathing. All these signs indicate the child is struggling to maintain oxygen levels. Reduced oxygen levels will lead to blue coloring around the mouth and fingertips.
This struggle for air can cause a tightening of body muscles, leading to an odd posture in the neck, shoulders, and torso. As the preemie breathes, the ribs and chest clearly get sucked in as the effort to breathe is challenged.
In chest x-rays, a physician can identify BPD because the lungs of the infant actually appear spongy. A child with this condition will generally spend a length of time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) until he or she can breathe without support.
Babies with BPD must be kept warm and given fluids and nutrition through an IV, as they would be unable to feed in this condition. All of their vitals must be constantly monitored. Bronchodilators help keep the baby’s airways open and diuretics can keep the lungs from filling with fluid.