Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman, PC
800 827 0087

PPHN Complications

PPHN is a very serious condition that requires extensive monitoring and treatment.  Even when PPHN is recognized and treated immediately after birth, an infant with PPHN may continue to supply the body’s tissues with an inadequate supply of oxygen which can result in shock, heart failure, brain hemorrhage, seizures, kidney failure, multiple organ damage, and possibly even death.

Some of the causes of PPHN are treatable and even reversible; others are associated with a poor survival rate, even if nitric oxide and Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) are used.  In some newborns who have PPHN, the lungs are too diseased or malformed for them to adequately heal regardless of the treatment administered.

Extended periods of inadequate oxygenation can have long-term effects on infants who survive with PPHN, such as bronchopulmonary dysplasia (a chronic lung disease associated with scarred, stiffened lungs) and breathing difficulties.  Seizure disorders, developmental delay, and neurological deficits are also possibilities.

For several weeks after treatment, infants who have had PPHN may not be able to be fed by their mouth. If the baby cannot eat enough to meet his nutritional requirements for growth, a temporary feeding tube may need to be inserted through the baby’s nose.  For longer-term feeding problems, a tube may be inserted directly into the stomach through the skin on the abdomen.

It is also common for babies who have had PPHN to develop hearing problems.  If your child has had PPHN, he will probably need to be evaluated by a hearing specialist during early childhood to check for hearing loss, and the development of his speech will also need to be monitored closely.

Medical treatments such as high frequency ventilation, nitric oxide and ECMO have significantly decreased the percentage of children who die from PPHN.  Fifteen years ago nearly half of all children who were diagnosed with PPHN died.  Now, less than 20% of those infants who develop PPHN will actually die from it, and only about one-fifth of the children who survive PPHN will have long-term physical or developmental complications.