Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia (BPD) is a chronic respiratory disease that is associated with premature and low-weight (2.2 ounces or 1,000 grams) infants born with underdeveloped lungs.  It is identified by inflammation and scarring in the lungs.  At times it may be called ‘chronic lung disease.’

Let’s break down the word:

Broncho refers to the bronchial tubes (airway). Oxygen travels through these tubes.

Pulmonary refers to the alveoli (tiny air sacs in the lungs).  Oxygen and carbon dioxide is exchanged here.

Dysplasia means there are abnormal changes in a group of cells.  The cell changes in BPD take place in the small airways and alveoli causing problems for lung function and making breathing difficult for the infant.

Most infants make a full recovery from BPD, but in some rare cases, combined with the other complications of prematurity, it could be fatal.  According to the National Heart  Lung and Blood Institute, there are between 5,000 and 10,000 cases per year.  These tiny infants have been treated with supplemental oxygen or had a mechanical ventilator do the breathing for them for some time.  The ventilator is essential to move the air through the trachea under pressure from the machine to push the oxygen into the stiff, underdeveloped lungs.  Sometimes the pressure from the ventilator and the excess oxygen intake can injure a newborn’s delicate lungs, and may lead to Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS).  If the symptoms continue and the baby is oxygen dependent and under 36 weeks gestational age the condition is called BPD.  Babies are not born with BPD but genetics may play a part in some cases.

There are some other causes that an infant would be diagnosed with BPD such as trauma, pneumonia, and other infections.  These all cause inflammation and scarring of the lungs associated with BPD. even in a full-term newborn or very rarely an older infants or children.

There is no treatment that can immediately cure bronchopulmonary displasia, rather there are treatments to support breathing and oxygen levels so that these infants will grow and thrive.  They are first placed in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) until they are able to breathe well enough on their own without the assistance of a ventilator.  These infants may be treated with certain medicines such as bronchodilators to keep the airways open and diuretics to reduce fluid build up in the lungs.  Steroids may be used with a severe case of BPD.  There are short term and long term side effects with these drugs so this would be a decision between you and the physician.  Many times the baby is given a natural lubricant called surfactant to improve breathing function.

In some severe cases of BPD, the infant will not be able to use their gastrointestinal system to digest food and are given supplemental I.V.’s of TPN (Total Parenteral Nutrition) with all of the proteins, sugars and nutrients.  The usual stay in the NICU for an infant with BPD is 120 days.  Some babies will be discharged with medications, breathing treatments and oxygen at home.  The child may be free of symptoms by the end of the first year or continue with some symptoms as long as the lungs are growing (5-7 years).  Children that have been diagnosed with BPD will be more susceptible to infections such as the flu, RSV (respiratory sincytial virus) and pneumonia.  Some may develop asthma, pulmonary edema or, rarely, pulmonary hypertension.





  1. This was my original case of staying five weeks in the hospital after I was born, from what I been told by my parents I was in and out of hospitals with pulmonary problems for so long that they knew all the doctors be first names.
    However I must retale the story I had of walking into the hospital and after a treatment of oxygen, a very worry doctor walking in and told me “you must stop smoking at this moment!” and as I explain to her, I never smoke she continue to tell I mustn’t lie to her, at last I explain to her that had asthma. She look down and said “sorry, you have scar tissue in your lungs like smoker” I never forget that, she look sadder than I did.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am so happy that you are not a smoker. My son Alex had severe asthma and, like you, had many other problems. He started smoking when he was about 22. He did quit some time before he passed though.


      • I know that feeling, I have wanted to feel normal before and gotten myself and work myself into sickness or tiredness.
        My ask what happen to Alex?

        Liked by 1 person

      • He passed away at thirty years old. He was always told that he would never live to 30. On that birthday he was so happy to show them! He had been through so many surgeries on his esophagus, he couldn’t eat for years. He had PICs, a permanent G-tube, adhesions, etc. He was tired. With another surgery coming up, I think he didn’t want to hurt me, but just couldn’t go on. It was not suicide. Just the time for him.


      • My mother when through something just as painful with a cousin of mine who was like son to her, he was paralyzed and among the depressions and medical problems he had, was the biggest issue that he was tire, a special sort of tire that only person who is sick can understand

        Liked by 1 person

  2. My eldest son was born with what was called Post Natal Distress. He is 42yrs now, when born he was unable to breath unaided and was blue. He was in an incubator for a fortnight in intensive care, He suffers from asthma to this day, but as a child he had bronchitis , Bronchiolitis and was in and out of hospital with asthma. He also had collapsed lungs I was often so worried about him but I suppose I should be grateful he survived. We had similar troubles with his brothers too xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

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