Hypertension Treatment

Pulmonary Hypertension and Pediatric Care

Pulmonary hypertension in infants occurs when the flow of blood in a newborn infant changes its natural course and goes back to the fetus. Medical studies had revealed that one in every 500 to 700 babies may suffer from this problem.

During pregnancy the child in the womb has a special mechanism by which it gets oxygen supply. As a result, the lungs do not require oxygen. During birth the baby needs air and it is now when the lungs require oxygen. So the blood circulation is changed automatically and blood is pumped into the lungs in exchange for carbon dioxide. In some cases however this process does not take place normally.

As a result a newborn baby may experience difficulty in breathing. As all organs of the body require oxygen a child suffering from this condition may also experience multiple organ damage. Studies also say that stress, anxiety, maternal diabetes, anemia and high blood pressure during pregnancy are some potent causes for the occurrence of pulmonary hypertension in the newborn child.

Symptoms of pulmonary hypertension may differ among different babies. Generally a baby can develop uneasy feeling or may appear sick during the first hours after birth. A baby can also develop fast heart rate or fast breathing. A baby suffering from pulmonary hypertension can also suffer from the condition called Cyanosis.

There are various tests that need to be carried out by the doctor to determine the cause and extent of PPH. Along with that a treatment has got to be devised and started.

Treatment for pulmonary hypertension depends a lot on different factors.

These factors are–

Gestational age of the baby, medical history, and overall fitness
Extent or depth of the condition
The baby's reaction to different kinds of drugs, medications, and therapies
The preference of the parents

The main aim of treatment for pulmonary hypertension is to increase the amount of oxygen supplied to the baby. For this supplemental oxygen may be given through masks or plastic pipe. An endotracheal tube is inserted into the baby's windpipe.

Medications are also prescribed which are aimed at relaxing the body's muscles and reflexes. Inhalation of nitric acid shown good results in some cases, they dilate the blood vessels in the lungs. In extreme cases the doctor resorts to surgery. Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation is a surgical method where oxygen is pumped into the baby's blood through the veins. This method is adopted only in a neonatal intensive care unit.