What is Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension (PPHN)?

Persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN), also known as persistent fetal circulation (PFC), is a medical condition in which blood doesn’t flow to a newborn’s lungs.  As a result, oxygen isn’t delivered to vital organs, including the brain.  In severe cases, PPHN can lead to death and brain damage that can result in cerebral palsy and other developmental disabilities that last a lifetime.

During pregnancy, a fetus gets oxygen through the umbilical cord.  When the child is born, however, it begins to receive oxygen through its lungs.  In some cases, this switchover doesn’t occur properly and results in PPHN.  The condition affects 1 out of every 500 to 1,500 births.

What Causes PPHN?

There are several factors that can cause PPHN.  Mothers who take certain SSRI antidepressant medications such as Prozac and Zoloft increase the risk of their children being born with PPHN.  Mothers who also take such medications as aspirin and ibuprofen may have increased risks of having children with the condition.  In addition, infants who inhaled meconium, suffer from pneumonia, experienced asphyxia or who have underdeveloped lungs may also be diagnosed with PPHN.  Babies born with PPHN usually have rapid breathing, a rapid heart rate and slightly blue skin, which is a sign of oxygen deprivation.

What Risk Factors Contribute to PPHN?

There are several factors that can increase a child’s risk of having PPHN.  One such factor is maternal diabetes.  Another factor is a complicated or prolonged delivery in which a fetus experiences distress.

How is PPHN Diagnosed and Treated?

To determine if a child has PPHN, doctors may perform chest X-rays, imaging exams of the heart, and blood tests that check an infant’s oxygen level.  Infants with PPHN are usually treated in a number of ways.  They will usually be placed on a ventilator to help them breathe.  In addition, they will usually receive nitric oxide treatments to improve blood flow to the lungs.  In severe cases of PPHN, an infant may be hooked up to an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine.  An ECMO is a machine that removes an infant’s blood, oxygenates it, and then returns it in a continuous flow.

How Can Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan, PLLC Help?

If your child suffered from PPHN and suffered lifelong injuries as a result, our law firm may be able to help.  Sin some cases, doctors may fail to inform expectant mothers about the dangers of taking certain medications, such as SSRIs, during pregnancy.  Such medications increase the risk of having a child born with PPHN.  We will thoroughly examine your child’s medical records, including those pertaining to pregnancy, delivery, and post-labor care.  If your child’s PPHN-related injuries was caused by medical malpractice, we will recover compensation from those responsible.

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