Pulmonary Hypertension in Babies (PPHN)

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Persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN) happens when a newborn’s circulation reverts to the circulation of a fetus. The result: Not enough blood or oxygen goes into the baby’s lungs.

About one in every 1,250 babies gets PPHN, related to: 

  • A difficult birth
  • The baby not having enough oxygen while being born
  • Pregnant mothers taking certain medications, like some pain relievers and antidepressants

Pulmonary Hypertension in Babies

Signs to look for include:

  • Blue lips and skin
  • Fast breathing
  • Fast heart rate
  • Low blood oxygen levels while getting 100 percent oxygen 

Treating PPHN in a Newborn

Without enough oxygen, your baby can have long-term health issues. Our goal: To restore oxygen in your infant’s systems.

At UVA Health Children's, our neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) provides respiratory therapists and the most advanced ventilators available for babies.

We can help your child breathe through various options, including:

  • Supplemental oxygen through a mask or hood
  • Endotracheal (ET) tube through your baby's windpipe (trachea)
  • Mechanical breathing machine (ventilator), which breathes for your baby
  • Medicine can help your baby’s muscles and reflexes relax and soften
  • Nitric oxide gas to expand the blood vessels in your baby’s lungs
  • Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), an artificial lung machine