Chronic lung disease, also known as bronchopulmonary dysplasia, is a long-term respiratory condition, which occurs mainly in infants who were extremely premature at birth. Some babies require mechanical ventilators for several months, even after they leave the hospital. But most babies can be weaned from ventilators by the end of their first year. Babies with chronic lung disease have increased risk of respiratory infection and may have to be re-hospitalised.
The best prevention for chronic lung disease is preventing prematurity in birth and reducing risks of infection in mother and child. Ventilation treatments must be customised to the patient. Anticipation and treatment of various risk factors such as PDA will also help to reduce incidence of chronic lung disease.
Chronic lung disease is diagnosed when a premature baby continues to have abnormal chest X-ray and still needs additional oxygen after reaching 36 weeks of gestational age. The x-ray of lungs with chronic lung disease often shows a bubbly and sponge-like appearance.
The lungs of premature babies are fragile. In chronic lung disease, the lungs are injured through mechanical ventilation and extra oxygen given to premature babies. Once it is injured, the lung tissue becomes inflamed, breaks down and heals with fibrosis. The diseased lung causes difficulty in breathing and the infant will need more oxygen.
Some causes of lung injury include the following:
Treatment of chronic lung disease includes: